So begins the lovely story told to children of all ages, the young and young-at-heart. I cannot help but wonder what experiences participants shared on that first night before Christmas. The night began like most for the common man, living out uneventful days from the cradle to the grave.
They were seekers of God, yet had no clear purpose in life and little hope for tomorrow. Yes, the devout Jews had heard predictions of a coming Messiah. Did they truly believe they would see the fulfillment? They were afraid to dream. Yahweh had given the promises so long ago. Why had He not fulfilled them?
As deliverer, surely He knew they were in desperate need of His intervention. Did He not care about the Roman government’s inhumane oppression upon them? Had He closed His eyes to their poverty? Surely, He perceived the feelings of emptiness that they had buried deep within their souls.
It was the night before Christmas…. It would be a special night, a supernatural still and “Silent Night.” The King sent out a taxing decree, demanding that the populace appear at their birthplace for counting in a census by Rome, in occupation of Israel.
In accordance to the decree, Mary and Joseph traveled far and long. They viewed the city of Bethlehem, birthplace of King and ancestor David on the horizon. Their donkey, burdened by the weight of this expectant mother, moved slowly. Both Mary and Joseph were weary and worn.
Both keenly aware of the impending arrival of the holy child entrusted to their care, they readied themselves and sought out an inn. Unable to secure a room their apprehension grew. God in his provision worked through an innkeeper who made a stable available.
It would provide a place of privacy not frequently found in a public inn. Unlike most others on this journey, they had found shelter and a place away from prying eyes. Mary, during childbirth, would experience dignity deserved by one highly favored by God. Mary and Joseph waited reverently for the arrival of the Anointed One, Jesus.
On that night, before Christmas….
Fathers eagerly await the birth of their first child. It is a moment of great pride and yet also one of tremendous responsibility. On the night before the first Christmas, God the heavenly Father took great pride in His Son, Whom had emptied Himself, to take on the form of man.
The fullness of time was approaching. Mary would birth Jesus, Son of God into the very world created by the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He made His entrance as an innocent babe. His Father would later use words of endearment, “my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” ( Matthew 3:17b KJV ) A star shone in the sky.
It is coming, December twenty fourth, another Christmas Eve…The night before Christmas. Wherever you and I spend that night, we should “Stop, look, and listen.”
Stop rushing long enough to take in the true meaning of Christmas. Immanuel, God with us! Jesus in the form of the Holy Spirit is with us.
Look to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. If you have never surrendered your life to Jesus, what better opportunity could you have than this Christmas? You can celebrate two births each coming Christmas, His birthday and your second birth.
You must be born again.(John 3:7 )
Listen to the children around you; They will tell you the story of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, shepherds, animals, and angels. They love to share and act out the story. Take the time to listen. Hear the message of God’s everlasting love. Listen, do you hear the sound of the heavenly chorus?
“Fear not; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger (Luke 2:10b-12 KJV).”