I have read the biblical account of Christmas hundreds of times but when I saw THIS my mind was blown.
Sounds like any number “shared” stories from a typical day on Facebook, doesn’t it? Like you, I have clicked any number of them and still my mind has not exploded, I haven’t been awed, transformed, or amazed beyond my wildest dreams. The same is true in this instance.
I HAVE read the Christmas story hundreds of times and this week I saw within this epic story a picture I hadn’t seen before. No, my mind wasn’t blown. They were truths that I have known and taught for decades. I just hadn’t seen them in this way or in this context before.
The narrative of Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus is a masterful composition of concise precision. One writer calls it “an economy of words”. Yet, within the simple portrayals of Mary, the shepherds, and the encounter with Simeone and Anna, Luke provides a vivid mosaic of Gospel truth that left me encouraged and re-assured of His redemptive work in our fallen world.
1) God brings life out of lifelessness.
The angel Gabriel announced to Mary she would be pregnant when it was simply impossible. She was a virgin. There was no occasioin for life to begin within her. Yet, that is exactly what transpired. The Spirit of God brought forth life. That is precisely what happens when sinners hear and respond to the Gospel. Life. Spiritual life. Life that is impossible by any means other than the miraculous work of God. Apart from Christ we are all spiritually lifeless creatures but the Spirit of God reaches down brings life to the lifeless.
2) God compells sinners to come to the Savior.
What a beautiful picture is that of the shepherds. Lowly, despised, and isolated they lived out most of their existence outside of the community. In all probability they were tending sheep that would one day be used by the priests as sacrifices in the temple. Suddenly and without warning, the host of heaven accompanied by the glory and splendar of God surrounds them and calls them to Jesus. Rescue and reconciliation are proclaimed to them out of the darkness. Without hesitation they respond in active and attentive worship of the Child who would one day die as the sacrificial Lamb of God who would pay the price of their guilt and sin.
God does save sinners. God WILL save sinners. Nothing can stop God from reaching down and compelling sinners to be saved. The birth of Jesus reminds and encourages us that the work of the Gospel will be effective.
3) There will always be a believing remnant in Israel.
The light of the incarnation shined in a dark period of Israel’s history. They were exiles in their own land; controlled and dominated by the Romans. The glory had departed and no longer were they a light to the nations. They were an apostate nation who had abandoned their covenant Lord. In obedience to Mosaic Law, Mary and Joseph bring Jesus into the temple area, and hope is kindled. Two aged Israelites appear in the storyline and proclaim Jesus as the Messiah. Just as quickly they disappear from history but in this moment, these two obscure Jews shine brightly. They are powerful reminders that God’s promise to Abraham, David, and Isaiah are sure. His covenant is everlasting. God will not abandon His people.
No, my mind wasn’t blown as I saw these truths exposed before me but heart was strengthened and encouraged, my mind was drawn again to the greatness and glory of God, and once again I was reminded how beautiful the Christmas story truly is.