Prepare to Listen. As you light the candles, including the white one, proclaim: Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!
Prayerfully Read Luke 2:8-20
[Try reading this well-known story with a beginner’s mind; as if for the first time.]
8In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and 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 heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’
15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Think of the shepherds minding their sheep. Perhaps they were discussing the brutal reign of Rome and wondering if Emperor Augustus would ever be removed. Suddenly, their world was turned upside down as an angel announced, “good news of great joy for all the people.” It was the news they’d longed for, but never imagined it would come in their life time.
Think of Emperor Augustus and what he’d do if he heard the shepherds proclaim the angel’s revolutionary message to Mary and Joseph: “to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” Augustus, who considered himself king and savior, would put the infant to death, and maybe even the shepherds.
Imagine those in the stable marveling that this humble, poor baby would one day right all wrongs, remove the cruel Romans and their Emperor, reverse the world order, give justice to the poor, the alien, the widow, the orphan. This infant, born into poverty, who’d live his entire earthly life in poverty, was God’s Messiah, the Savior of the world. In faith they worshipped him in that stable. I wonder if we would have worshiped a poor, helpless baby. Jesus comes to rule in a way that is radically different to anything we know or experience or even expect. We’re accustomed to wealthy charismatic leaders who promise to save us and make our nation great, not poverty-stricken infant saviors.
The shepherds believed in this tiny baby and went back to work “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.” But Mary treasured and pondered their words in her heart.
What new truths did you see in this story today? What will you treasure and ponder in your heart today?
Respond in Prayer
Lord, keep this story of your lowly birth always fresh so that I worship you for who you are, who you came to be—the one who sides with the outcasts, the humble, the poor. Show me how to live your way today. Amen.
Live Obediently. Go forth glorifying God for all you’ve seen and heard about Jesus.
May you and you loved ones have a blessed Christmas celebrating Christ’s 1st Advent as you wait in wait for his 2nd Advent. If you have found meaning and appreciated reading and learning about Jesus’ family tree and would like to financially support my ministry of devotional writing, you can do so through PayPal or contact me for an alternate format. Thank you.
Reading my Bible has been central in my life since I received my first Bible at 8 years of age. My decades of reading, studying and teaching the Bible gives my devotions a unique and enriching perspective. Reflecting on Jesus' family tree enriched my understanding of Jesus and the salvation he offers.