Different things matter. Take nothing for granted. Grieve what has been lost but rejoice in what has been given. It is still the best gift of all time. Immanuel, God with us.
For has He not promised never to forsake or abandon His people? Has He not promised to be with us to the end of the age? Has He not promised neither to slumber nor sleep or to turn His face aside but instead to continually hear our prayers and to intercede before the Heavenly Father on our behalf?
Make no mistake: The throne that Isaiah described is still filled with the glory and wonder of our glorious God. And seated on the right hand of the throne is our beloved King Jesus, the author and finisher of our salvation. He alone is the giver of all good and perfect gifts and there is no shadow or turning with Him. He is not the least bit surprised at whatever fiery trials have come upon us this year, for has He not told us that in our lives it would be so?
And yet, with outstretched arms, He bids us come – ever loving, ever faithful – offering us the gift of Himself. Let us fix our eyes upon Him and not lose sight of all that He has done. The Son of God, the Lamb who was slain for the remission of our sins. The greatest debt of all time, the debt of every man’s sin, paid once and for all.
Come, marvel once again with me. For into that stable rude and dark and pungently scented with the smell of unwashed animals, came the soft cries of the Savior of the world. It was not what anyone would have expected for a long-awaited king, but to the shepherds who saw the skies filled with singing angels and heard those selfsame voices announcing the arrival of the Messiah, it seemed exactly right. These shepherds would never have been welcomed to the house of any earthly king. In fact, they would have been denied entrance to all but the humblest of homes. And so it was fitting for them (and for us) that it was to the most rude of all homes– a place that usually housed only animals – that they were improbably sent to worship a newborn king.
Think of the irony: that of all those who would later hear the word of the arrival of this special One, the very first who came to worship were the only ones who would have been completely at home in that rude, cramped, smelly place. They thought nothing of kneeling on the filthy straw, and they were neither confused nor frightened by the sounds and smells of the animals who were sheltering there with Mary and Joseph and the child. The shepherds knew it well. It was home to them.
For these shepherds, once they got over their initial fear, were soon filled with an undeniable and powerful hope. It compelled them to leave their flocks to go and find the child. Somehow these shepherds already understood that this child was to be one of them. How they marveled at the joy of His humble birth, heralded by brilliantly shining angels.
Do not fear, for among you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you. Ye shall find the babe, wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. Luke 2:11-12
Hear the words: for AMONG you. Feel the hope rising in their hearts. He is one of you. He will be WITH you and you will be WITH Him. Immanuel.
Come and bow before Him. Come worship the King.
The shepherds to whom the angels appeared had no clue what the future would portend for the newborn child. But as they knelt in the darkness of the cave and took turns gazing upon the face of the little one, I am all but certain that the wonder of the glory of the Lord was still upon them. It was no accident of fate, no unusual twist or turn that brought these shepherds, rude, unwashed and humble men who held the lowliest of jobs, to be the first to worship the newborn King.
In the words of Matthew 20:28, For even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.
It is to King Jesus, we still come, not with trappings of gold or crowns of our own. We come with the only things He will accept – empty hands, a willing heart, and a desire to follow wherever He will lead us.
In the midst of all the uncertainty that fills our world, let us renew our faith by joining with the shepherds to bow down in wonder and worship the King.
Immanuel: God with Us
Still the best news we will ever know!