I’ve heard the Christmas story so many times. I know all its characters, its ending. I can even recite parts of Luke 2. But even after countless Christmases, it still surprises me at how mysterious and amazing the birth of Jesus was.
Take, for example, Mary. A virgin mother. She must have been terrified to hear the news that she was pregnant with God’s son. Instead of remaining in that fear she trusted God and worshiped him for the life growing inside her. I love that she went to stay with her pregnant cousin, who was carrying John the Baptist. Isn’t that the natural response of pregnant women today, surrounding themselves by other mothers for comfort and support?
Mary isn’t the only one who trusted God – poor Joseph found his fiancé pregnant and had to trust that what she (and an angel of the Lord) said was true. What courage it took for him to stay with her in the midst of being ridiculed by a moral society.
The night that Jesus was born must have been extraordinary. Shepherds were just doing their job when an angel appeared to them and told them where to find Christ the Lord. Then hundreds, maybe thousands of angels filled the skies and began praising God. What in the world did the people of Bethlehem think when they saw a multitude of angels filling the sky singing praises? It must have been an amazing—and possibly terrifying—site to see. I wonder what melody they sang and how long they were in the sky?
There were certainly enough people in the town to witness the scene if there wasn’t even a place for Mary and Joseph to stay. It is crazy to think that the creator of the universe—the one who holds the world in the palm of his hands—was brought into that same world in a stable with smelly animals and piles of manure.
One of the most amazing parts of the story is that Jesus’ birth and life was prophesized hundreds of years before it even happened. Prophesies that match up to the very details of that evening: virgin birth, Bethlehem, a humble beginning. But that is not all that was predicted, even his death was foretold before his birth:
But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. – Isaiah 53:5-6
This baby Jesus grew up and bore the sin of us all that we may be healed and experience true peace. I love that we have one day a year set aside to reflect, remember, and tell this amazing story again.