The story of the birth of Jesus is both marvelous and deeply important to the world. Even nonbelievers have been heavily impacted by it, simply because Christianity has been a key driver of human history for nearly 2,000 years.
For a complete view of Christianity, you have to understand Jesus as an adult, and in particular, you have to understand the importance of his death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead. Jesus’ birth narrative, however, is the beginning of the description of Jesus as the promised Messiah, evidence that God has chosen to be with us in the most personal of ways.
News this important needs to be told. Luke’s spare, tight account of the birth is all about the telling, with voices declaring Jesus as Messiah from both heaven and earth.
Already, angels have punctuated the story repeatedly, prepping the key players for what is to come. The actual birth happens in a straightforward manner. Mary and Joseph make their way to Bethlehem in answer to a census, and while there, Luke tells us, “The time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”
The formal birth announcement comes from heaven, with angels appearing before lowly shepherds, declaring the arrival of “a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” The angels tell the shepherds how to find this great miracle—look for something common. “This will be a sign for you: You will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
I find it instructive that while angels began the announcement, the proclamation effort quickly was turned over to humans, and quite common humans at that, at least in worldly terms. God’s good news spread from the bottom up, ensuring that the people usually left out of key events were the first to know about the most important event.
The shepherds went in search of evidence of what they had heard, finding it in a primitive barn. The baby in the manger was enough for them to begin to tell others what they had seen, causing amazement.
And here we are now, still celebrating what God has done for us through this miraculous birth. Word has spread not because of angels but because of faithful telling and re-telling from generation to generation.
Have you told anyone lately? Have you amazed anyone with the story of how much God loves his creation? Have you helped the joy of Christmas seep into others’ souls so their joy may be eternal?
What an opportunity the Christmas season is!
I wish you a merry Christmas, and I pray that you will carry Christmas to those in need of good news.