The greatest, most remarkable, astonishing, long-awaited event the earth had, up to this time, ever witnessed almost seemed as anti-climatic as it was obscured. Hidden in the midst of centuries of waiting and rehearsing the promises of the Messiah’s coming (the anointed One), had been wars, captivities, idolatry, and falling away from Israel’s hope of His appearing. But now, after so many forgotten years, the promise God made in the Garden – the promise that actually came as a curse upon the Serpent, the arrival of the Head Crusher, lit up the sky.
What could this mean? Heralded by a sky full of angels – hidden in the middle of the night, He came. Given as the greatest gift, the baby Jesus was born. There was no human pomp and circumstance surrounding the coming of this most unusual child sent from heaven. What could it be but the Father’s love and reconciliation offered to the downtrodden, broken remnants of humanity? If not for the angels who sang that Bethlehem night no one would have known or would any ever looked back to consider who this Child was.
The stable was prepared, filled with earth’s lowliest creatures, a small sampling of animals, a tired donkey, and a few sheep perhaps. They were the little space-heaters sent to keep the king warm in His manger bed of straw and swaddling clothes on that cold winter’s night. What a profound mixture of heaven and earth, pain and joy, sorrow and wonder, hope and disappointment that came together that holy night to welcome the Child and keep Him company. The shepherds came eager to report what the angels had told them. Mary smiled modestly and kept this moment, along with all the others she kept in heart, safe from doubt and fear.
Only after 31 days, and the completion of Jesus’ visit to the temple and Mary’s purification did the assembly of the wise men come. They found Him, not in the stable, but in a house, probably a rented house in the town of Bethlehem. Things moved quickly after that. The kings bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh had gotten lost. The star had seemed to vanish and they were forced to get directions. They knew they were close and the time was right, but they were lost and so they did the most logical thing a wise man could do – inquired at the palace of Herod.
But Herod was no well seated despot. He was insecure, paranoid and ruthless toward any he suspected of sneaking behind his back to steal his already stolen throne. Jesus had been born in a most unfortunate and dangerous place, under the thumb of king Herod. Herod was about to release one of the most bloody and butchering tragedies known and remembered for centuries- the slaughter of the innocence – the baby boys born under two years of age – in an effort to kill the new born King.
The prophecies were consulted – child would be born, as foretold, in the little city, town of Bethlehem where King David had been born. How fitting, that the rightful heir to his throne, blood of his linage, would be born in the same place. But the political climate was deceptive and hostile. When the wise men showed up Herod pretended to be a follower of the Promise, a devout worshipper who besought the travelers to tell him when they found the infant King.
As the wise men left Jerssalem, the Star favored them and they followed it straight to their destination. They worshipped and gave their timely gifts to the astonished Mother and her little baby boy. No one knew or suspected the danger their visit brought, although by the end of the evening it would seem, after hearing the story of the inquiry at the palace, all were uneasy. The life of the Son of God could be in grave human danger – so they laid down to sleep a restless sleep feeling something was not right.
But God the Father was keeping watch over everything. Jesus’ assignment of the twelve legions of angels were alerted to conceal His whereabouts and mislead Herod’s soldiers. God already knew what was in Herod’s heart and simply foiled his plan to kill Jesus by sending two dreams that night – warnings, one to the wise men and one to Joseph. The Child’s life and safety were to be provided, not by military escorts, or secret service or caravans of well armored vehicles or motorcades fit for the carrying of royalty, but by the cover of darkness, sudden and secret departing in the cold of the night. Joseph did not hesitate. Time was of the essence. Mary wrapped the baby and gathered her things for the quick departure and they were gone. The night had swallowed them up and carried them far away from Herod and his jurisdiction. They had fled as refugees, from their own beloved land to the place where their fathers had been kept for centuries as slaves to the pharaoh. Here was Egypt’s chance to redeem itself from those terrible days of mistreating the Hebrews.
The joy of that silent night had abruptly changed to an all-out attack of the Serpent’s system upon the newly identified Savior. Jesus would live for the next 30 years under cover as a common carpenter, an obedient young Jewish boy who grew up building and fixing things to support his family. No one would ever suspect Him to be the Messiah, the long awaited Savior or the World – at least, not yet, not until it was time for Him to be revealed to Israel. Would they reject Him for their own well planted systems of religion and philandering, or would they accept Him and follow Him in the things He told them?
The world was about to see the most astonishing demonstration of the miraculous colliding with the narratives of Hell. The proof of His message is in the liberation it brings. The proof of His message is in the life He led – the love He bled. He is, to this day, the most hated man that ever lived, the most misunderstood, the most cursed, the most blessed, the most powerful, loving and just. He is the One to most be feared, the One most longed for, the One Who changes everything for everyone. He is the dividing line between the lost and those found, the source of eternal life, and the terror of Hell for those who reject Him. What Child is this upon Whose shoulders the destiny of every man, woman and child is carried and upon which the eternal government will rest?
“And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”Is. 9:6