From: Su Min
Subject: Greet the Christ Child
Monday 16th December 1996
Dearly Beloved, family & friends, brothers and sisters in Christ: members of our parish in Cyberchurch, and all the nice people at http://www.antioch.com.sg, staff, regulars and visitors.
Greetings in the name of Infant Jesus!
Christmas is in the air.
I cannot, try as I might, set my mind to getting on with Matt Chapter 16 yet. (I will, I will, in the fullness of time) But for today, I am drawn to the Christmas story as in told in Luke, so this will be my sharing with you here...
THE TEXTLet us look at part of the Christmas story, as told in Luke_2:1-20. Focus on the response of each of the people, as they greet The Christ Child, as they feel the impact of Jesus on their lives. As you do so, reflect on your own response, as you greet the Christ Child into your life.
We learned from the previous text, that Mary raised her soul and spirit in a song of praise, the Magnificat, magnifying God, as she felt the impact of Jesus in her life. What then, of the others: what then, of you, beloved, as Jesus comes into your life? What is your response?
THE CENSUSWe are told in Luke_2:1-3,_that everyone went back to his home town to be registered for the census ordered by Caesar Augustus. The Romans had their own reason for the census. It was to be a head count of all the population of the Roman Empire, on which taxes were to be exacted. A lot of people would have to move. People would be displaced. No trains, no cars, no lorries. The rich would travel in horse-drawn carriages. Most would be travelling on foot or donkey. Arduous journeys indeed, even for the non- pregnant. But the treasury of the Roman Empire would be refurbished.
A PROPHECYBut God had His reason to allow the census to occur, for it meant that Mary and Joseph would move from Nazareth to Bethlehem. God's promise as recorded in Micah_5:2_says "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will rule over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times." The Messiah, God's Anointed One, would come from Bethlehem, a tiny small insignificant village in Judea.
THE ROMANSPregnant Mary lived in Nazareth. It was part of God's perfect plan that Jesus be born in Bethlehem. So the might of the Roman empire is used by God, to shift the populace for a census, placing Mary in Bethlehem, at the right place, at the right time. Time and again though history we have seen God not only using the saints to do His will, but also earthly powers, tyrants, kings and emperors.
He who commands the wind and the earth and the rain, and the sea, indeed He made them all, commanding even the shadow cast by the sun to move backwards for Hezekiah (2_Kings_20:11). No person is beyond God's control, should God decide to command them to do this or that. There are often times when God gives us the free will to chose whether or not we respond to His direction. At other times He moves us whether or not we are willing! God is in total control, yet with us it is a relationship of obedience that He desires, not an army of robots or puppets.
JOSEPHSo Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and the line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. (Luke_2:4-5)
Joseph responds in obedience to the Roman decree and in obedience to God. The Roman decree was bad enough: return to his ancestral home with his very pregnant wife. Joseph returns to Bethlehem with Mary.
God's command to Joseph was even tougher. In Matthew_1:18-25,_we learn that Joseph intended to divorce Mary when he discovered she was pregnant but not with his child. The angel of the Lord says, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew_1:20-21).
What a start to married life: to find your wife is pregnant but the child is not your own. "The Holy Child will be named Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." The spiritual plane of the relationship is demonstrated: born of the Holy Spirit: to save people from their sins. Joseph responds to the impact of Jesus in his life with obedience.
THE INNKEEPERWhile they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in strips of cloth and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke_2:6-7)
No room in the inn.
What was the response of the innkeeper?
Was he hard-hearted in not finding a room for them?
Was he charitable in letting them use the stable?
Could he have invited them in to use some of his family space?
We do not know.
But more important is to know OUR response as Jesus knocks on the door of our hearts: Is there room in our hearts for Jesus?
THE SHEPHERDSThe shepherds were in the field, literally minding their own business.(Luke_2:8)
When the angel of the Lord appeared to them, they were "sore afraid", they were terrified (Luke_2:9) Then having been told about Jesus, they decide "Come, let us go to Bethlehem to see this thing which has happened which our Lord has told us about". (Luke_2:15)
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in a manger (Luke_2:16)
When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them abut this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. (Luke_2:17-18)
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (Luke_2:20)
Collect the ACTION words:
Having been told about Jesus they SAID: COME let us GO.
So the HURRIED OFF and FOUND
When they had SEEN they SPREAD THE WORD
Then they RETURNED, GLORYFYING and PRAISING GOD
The shepherds were commoners, peasants, low income workers, yet their actions in response to the Infant Jesus are something all of us would do well to emulate.
This Christmas, when you hear about the Christ Child, what will your response be, beloved?
Having been told about Jesus, will you say "COME let us GO"? Will you HURRY OFF and FIND Jesus? Having FOUND and SEEN will you SPREAD THE WORD? Will you then RETURN to your family and friends, your place of work, your place of play, will you
GLORIFY and PRAISE GOD?
BLESSED VIRGIN MARYThe people were amazed, the shepherds praised and glorified God. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart (Luke_2:19)
Mary internalised these events. She savoured them. She appreciated them. She meditated upon them. She had submitted herself to the will of God: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord" (Luke_1:38) In response to Jesus coming into her life, Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Beloved, is there not also very much for YOU to treasure up and ponder in your heart, as Jesus comes into your life?
THE ANGEL OF THE LORDWe have looked at the response of The Romans, the Innkeeper, Joseph, Mary, and the shepherds when Jesus came into their lives. Let us lift our eyes a little higher and look at the angels.
We get the plasticky tinsel angels on our Christmas cards and Christmas decorations, but I bet they are a far cry from the real things: It must have been a terrifying awesome sight to have seen the angel of the Lord, there out in the fields while the shepherds were looking after their sheep.
The Angel of the Lord brought reassurance.
"Do not be afraid"
The Angel of the Lord brought good news "I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people"
The Angel of the Lord brought announcement of the birth of the Messiah "Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord"
The Angel of the Lord brought a sign "this will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger"
And even to you, today, beloved, the angel of the Lord comes to you to bring reassurance and good news!
GREAT COMPANY OF HEAVENLY HOSTSSuddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying.
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favour rests." (Luke_2:14).
Beloved, may you this Christmas ACCEPT the Christ Child into your life, may you REST in His favour, may you DWELL in His peace, may you JOIN the heavenly host in their ceaseless song of praise
"Glory to God in the highest"
"Gloria, in excelsis Deo"
For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min
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