By L&T Columnist Gary Damron
At the original Christmas, there were people close to Jesus’ birth who missed it. The innkeeper in Bethlehem during the time followed good business principles – he set his priorities, capitalized on an optimum time for sales, and no doubt reveled in the busyness of his establishment. Yet when he had no room left, he and his family missed the glory of welcoming the Messiah.
Herod, ruler of Judea, heard news of the infant king and was disturbed because of perceived threats to his kinghood. He had already executed his two oldest sons, his wife’s brother and then his wife. Had the wise men told a story of a great teacher, an advisor or religious leader, Herod might have gladly accepted the baby: he readily consulted people like that in his court. But his refusal to yield the throne, of his kingdom or his life, caused him to miss the King and brought about great anguish when he ordered execution of all children two and under.
Bethlehem was a small town, rich in history, a mere five miles from Jerusalem. Isaac’s beloved wife Rachel was buried nearby. Ruth and Naomi traveled there, Ruth married Boaz there, and one of their descendants was the shepherd boy David who became king of Israel. Micah prophesied Bethlehem as the birthplace of a new king, yet no watch or sentinel was placed in the village and even those familiar with the prophetic message missed the birth. May we look with fresh eyes on the old familiar places and find anew the glory of Christmas.
However, other people did experience the coming of God’s Son through yielding, seeking and sharing. Mary the mother of Jesus was young, female, pregnant, poor and unwed. Yet following the pronouncement of the angel, Mary showed only submission and acceptance as she and Joseph yielded their lives to caring for this child.
The Magi saw a star and traveled hundreds of miles, diligently seeking a king. They sacrificed comfort, goals, safety and a portion of their wealth in making the trip. They provided gifts for the family to flee to Egypt, and showed us that true seekers will not be deterred.
The shepherds, out on hills where David had kept flocks, were the only people that night who came to adore. Then, it says in Luke 2:17, they spread the word. In recounting the event they and others were able to re-experience it. Then the shepherds returned glorifying and praising God for the things they’d seen and heard.
For any who don’t know firsthand the reality of God with us, our prayer is that you will find the king born in Bethlehem. For those who already know him, may the story become real in a new way. Just for a little while, quit “doing” Christmas.
Turn the old adage around: “Quit doing something and just stand there.” Wait before Jesus with expectation! This season don’t let anything cause you to miss the new king.
This article was originally printed Dec. 19, 2007.