But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them…The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Luke 2:16-19, 20
On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
Thursday: Shepherds & Magi; Luke 2:8-20; Matt 2:1-12; Symbol – Star
“The only class of people considered lower than shepherds were thieves. Even Gentiles were afforded more respect…I (the angel Gabriel) found myself baffled by God’s logic. Were the plan mine, I would have roused the sleeping world by trumpeting the birth of the Messiah in the Temple and in the royal courts. I would have engaged the important people in welcoming the new King to earth…But not God.
He said, ‘I will announce the birth of the Savior only to those who care to know it, only to those looking for a savior. Those who want a king to lead them into battle or a leader to make them rich will not know what to do with My Anointed One. If the rich and the learned and the powerful care to find Him, they will have no trouble. I have made the time and place of His birth known to all mankind for many centuries,” taken from A Bethlehem Christmas by Charles R. Swindoll
God is so good and so different from the way we operate. The very first people he told, after the birth of Jesus, were young, poor, looked-down-upon shepherds. Maybe equivalent in our day to telling a bunch of migrant workers or the homeless. “Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these ‘nobodies’ to expose the hollow pretensions of the ‘somebodies,'” 1 Corinthians 1:28 (The Message). But these were people who were searching for Him. People who had much time on their hands to pray, little of earth’s worldly possessions to distract them and desire in their hearts to know Him.
For an instant, the veil between Heaven and earth was removed and they got a peek into Heaven to see the glory of the angels as they celebrated the Messiah’s birth. What a moment! What a privilege!
“On the eastern side of the Arabian desert…a cloister of Magi preserved the traditions of the Babylonian and Persian astrologers. As they looked into the western sky, high above the horizon, a new light triggered a memory…Daniel’s calculations…a king! But not just any king. The King of the Jews. A King who would eventually rule the world…They travelled more than three months to see the new King and when they found Him, they did something extraordinary. They fell down on their faces and worshipped!” taken from A Bethlehem Christmas by Charles R. Swindoll
Foreigners, learned scholars, wise, intelligent men. Eager to find the one, true King. So sure of Daniel’s ancient prophecies, confirmed by “a star in the east,” that they bow down before a small child and hail Him as the King of Kings. And their gifts…gold to honor a King, frankincense in recognition of Christ’s role as our ultimate priest and intercessor before God and myrrh to signify the suffering and death that Christ would undergo for us.
May we, like the shepherds, humble ourselves before God, truly seek Him with ready hearts and may we, like the wise men, believe His Biblical promises and bow down before Him in worship.
What can I give Him, Poor as I am!
If I were a shepherd I would bring Him a lamb,
If I were a wise man I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him, I’ll give Him my heart.
from the song In the Bleak Midwinter
The above commentary on Matthew is part of a 4-week Advent Reflection for the Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree is similar to an advent calendar. Every day you will read a Bible passage to your child(ren), discuss what it means to them in personal terms and color an ornament to hang on your Jesse Tree. A fuller description of this can be found at The Jesse Tree
When you are finished today, you might want to discuss how Christmas is about giving much more than getting. One way that your family can give is through their daily prayers. This might be a good time to pray for a specific country or for a group of people who do not know about Jesus. Today, over 2 billion people, 1/3 of the earth’s population, have never heard the Gospel message. Please pray that hearts, like the shepherds, will be ready to hear the Good News about Jesus and that they, like the wise men, will trust in the message of God’s love for them.
Two great websites to help you do this are:
Unreached of the Day
Operation World go to Featured Nation and click on Country Profile
Some of the churches in Charleston that are using a Jesse Tree as part of their Advent celebration are: Charleston Sanctuary
Allison Creek Presbyterian Church
Good Shepherd Catholic Church
St Luke’s Lutheran Church
Grace Episcopal Church