The world lay in the sway of darkness, sin, and death. Man’s journey from the Garden was marked by a trail of death and tears with each tomb a reminder of every man’s fate. Death reigned in the world by a cruel master, Satan, whose very name meant “Adversary”. The Hebrew prophets of old had prophesied approximately seven centuries before of a coming Messiah who would save and deliver.
Perhaps the people of the dividing point of time had hardened their ears and hearts to the often spoken promises of long since dead prophets. Age old prophesies were now ripe for fulfillment.
In the story that only God can weave is the thread of two young peasant villagers of Nazareth, Mary and Joseph by name. Their lives were like everyone around them: work, get married, have children, live out their allotted days, and die. God often works His greatest plan through the most ordinary, for they will only see the miracle of God and not themselves.
Mary was espoused to Joseph. She was likely a fifteen to sixteen year old girl engaged to a young carpenter in his twenty-somethings. The hopes and plans of the young couple were not grand but normal for such villagers; just a simple life of common toil and typical pleasures of the time. Contentment with the few joys of life was their biggest hope.
While only engaged the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her of the special child who would be conceived in her. These are the words he spoke,
“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. / He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. / And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:31-33 NKJV).
She wondered how could this be because the marriage had not be consummated. Gabriel told her the birth would be miraculous and the Child would be called the Son of God. Joseph at first found this too hard to believe and was ready to call the whole thing off when an angel appeared to him in a dream and set the record straight. He took Mary as his wife but they did not consummate the marriage until after Jesus was born.
The young couple traveled to Joseph’s ancestral city of Bethlehem for the required Roman census for purpose of taxation. While they were there in the crowded city, Mary went into labor and gave birth in an area (possible a small cave) used to shelter animals. In this less than suitable delivery room, the Messiah was born. His first breath of earthly air was filled with the aroma of animal dung and straw. They laid the swaddled Jesus in a cattle trough. God became flesh in the womb of a poor peasant girl in an obscure village and now was born in a stable. He was born in the town of the great King David whose throne He would ultimately claim as His own yet His birth was not heralded by rulers or princes but angles declared the news to despised shepherds.
In these days of Christmas, we tell and retell the story of Christ’s birth. It is indeed a beautiful story of hope and wonder.
My life was once just as the ancient world; dark and steeped in sin and death but God who is rich in mercy and grace sent His Son into my life to bring an ancient promise of life and joy to reality. His sniff of my life was a stench more putrid than the stable yet He entered it just the same to cleanse and sanctify. I had no acclaim to gain His favor for I was neither rich nor famous but His promise of salvation was to “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13 NKJV). Jesus Christ’s entry into my life was not announced on the evening news but it caused great rejoicing in Heaven.
My journey with Jesus, my Savior and Lord since that day, has been less than perfect on my part but His love draws me to greater heights of wonder and worship. This life in Him is not just on Christmas but every day. I celebrate the Savior who became flesh and who has pitched His tent in me. Through life’s trials and disappointments, even to the end of this world’s journey and beyond, I know I will always live in His presence. Worshiping my Savior, Jesus Christ this day and every day…
Yours on the Journey,
Harry L. Whitt