Philippians 2: 3-6
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the Gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ …”
As I have stated in past posts, I reread books and stories many times. Sometimes these books and stories I read each year. For instances: Corrie ten Boom’s “The Hiding Place” or Charles Sheldon’s “In His Steps.” But there is one story that I do not read silently to myself. I have shared this story over and over throughout the years with my children, my grandchildren, and every Sunday School class I have taught over the past 49 years. Today I am going to share this story with you. So get comfortable and know that this story is for you whether you have heard it before or not at all.
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin bethrothed (engaged) to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice highly favored one, you among women!’ But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.
Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.’
Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’
And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.‘
Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maid-servant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her … (Luke 1:26-38)
And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place when Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.
So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her first-born Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’
So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us now go to Bethleham and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. The the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them (Luke 2: 1-20; New King James Version).
There is another version of the Christmas story in the Gospel of Matthew that gives more details. But for some reason the Gospel of Luke’s story has always been my favorite. Another year has come and gone, and yet the King of Kings and Lord of Lords returns to us as a baby in a manger – pure and whole and sinless. He still calls us to follow even at the moment of birth; and many do!
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas. May God bring you comfort and peace during this celebration of the birth of our Savior and Master.
Today do something that challenges you!