As I thought about the birth of Christ, I read the story in the scriptures anew. In Luke 2:8-20 we find an angel of the Lord telling some shepherds, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people” (10). This “good tiding” or, as your translation may read, good news, is the Greek word euaggelizo: to announce good news. The good news is this, “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). As the story unfolds, these shepherds find the baby Jesus in the place told them by the angel, “lying in a manger” (Luke 2:16). What happens next is seldom spoken of, “Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning the Child” (Luke 2:17). Those the angel of the Lord spoke to, now find themselves sharing it with others. Luke 2:20, “Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.”
The story shifts to some other individuals displayed in the typical nativity scenes, the three wise men. The number three is because the wise men offered three gifts. In reality, no one truly knows just how many wise men went to worship the baby Jesus that day. Another interesting thing is it appeared when they did go, some time had passed, and Jesus was no longer in the manger, for in Matthew 2:11, we read, “And when they had come into the house…”. Their intent, as seen in Matthew 2:2, was to “worship” the newborn child Jesus. And when they found Him, they “fell down and worshipped Him” (Matthew 2:11). As we know, “they presented gifts to Him; gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).
Giving gifts is how they responded, as they witnessed a moment in history that would change the world. For most, if not all of us, we have come to know the profound gift of Immanuel, God, with us. Our lives are now changed and hope renewed; the question might be, “How do we honor the gift of Christ?” One thing is for sure, we can never, and I mean never, repay it, let alone think we deserve it. It would be difficult to answer that question fully in just one or many lessons. But I came across an answer that reminds us of the gift we can offer our King for all He has done.
And above all things have fervent love for one another,
for “love will cover a multitude of sins.’” (1st Peter 4:8)
So much of our worship towards Him has to do with our care for one another. The apostle Paul speaks of this idea, encouraging the saints to “be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” (Romans 12:10). Okay, though, I know you remember the one other verses, we still need reminding. The appeals are numerous: “through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13), “be kind to one another” (Ephesians 4:32), “comfort one another” (1st Thessalonians 4:18), and “be hospitable to one another” (1st Peter 4:9). These give us a glimpse into the vision Jesus had for the church which He purchased with His blood. We are in a recovery-type mode right now, seeking to reignite the care and involvement we once cherished only a couple of years ago. We can see from this text and others within the Scriptures this love is desperately needed for our spiritual well-being. But we are reminded that there is more to it than our benefit.
“If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies,
that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ…” (1st Peter 4:11)
I am mindful of our recent lesson series on Colossians, where the apostle Paul encouraged them and us, saying, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17). All things! This gift called Christ, given to sinful man, offering reconciliation to all, is meant to impact our lives. Through our service to one another and the proclamation of this glorious message of hope, we honor our God. It is the way that we offer our lives as a “living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). I like how the ETRV translates this verse, “Considering what he has done, it is only right that you should worship him in this way.”
As this year comes to a close and the new year draws ever closer, may we be reminded by this Christmas holiday just how incredible the gift of Christ is to us all. And may we also consider how we might honor Him in return, giving Him the gift we all can gift, our lives. Thank You, Jesus, and Heavenly Father, for offering Him in my place. I can never repay it, but I can honor it.