Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10Then 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. 11“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12“And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:8-14
I can’t even imagine what this must have been like, can you? Just think of the “cast of characters” involved in the first Christmas. First is the villainous King Herod. [Every story needs a ‘bad guy’] Then there is Joseph…To think of the faith and love in this man, choosing not to destroy his fiancé’s reputation! How many men would believe a story like this: “Well honey, you see, the Holy Spirit came on the scene and, well, er…, the pregnancy test is positive.” Of course, that brings us to the female lead herself, Mary. Many scholars believe she was still in her teens, yet she faced the situation bravely and, at the angel Gabriel’s instruction simply replied, “Be it unto me accord to your word!”
Every role in this story is important. The shepherds needed to be on the job that night. [Not a good night to call in sick!] The angel of the Lord, along with the multitude of heavenly hosts, had a great message to bring forth. [What an awesome assignment!] Even an innkeeper had a part to play. [I wonder if he had any inkling of what was going on that night.]
The wise men won’t show up till later. But they will fill in an important piece of the puzzle, as their gifts helped sustain the young family in those early years.
I think also of the involvement of animals, like sheep and cattle, and the important role of a lowly donkey, carrying such precious cargo.
Without doubt, the lead role was there “wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” The Son of God had taken on flesh! The long awaited Messiah was born! The plan formed before the foundations of the world was played out before their very eyes.
I wonder how much these cast of characters understood that day. It brings to mind that stirring song, “Mary Did You Know?” The Bible tells of her pondering these things in her heart. It seems that if anyone “got it,” she did.
And what of “the star of the show”? Personally, I don’t believe the baby Jesus was lying there, fully cognizant, thinking, “Let’s get things started!” I read where He grew to be strong in spirit, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him. [Luke 2:40]
Yes, it’s a wondrous story. Better yet, it’s not just a story; it actually happened! But one addendum we must put on as we continue our Christmas celebrations: Jesus is not still the babe in the manger. He is the last Adam. He is the Innocent One crucified for the guilty! He is the Savior of mankind, the only door to God’s Kingdom, the way, the truth and the life. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Receive Him. Worship Him. Serve Him.