“…the star which they saw in the east went before them…’’
No first century author ever benefited from writing about the beautiful star that appeared in the east and guided the wise men to Bethlehem. In fact, the gospel writers never imagined that what they wrote concerning the Christ child would be treasured for centuries by billions of global readers. They simply related what happened on the wonderful night when the angels proclaimed the birth of our heaven-sent Savior!
The shepherds told everyone about what they had seen and heard because it was – inconceivable! Just imagine the sky filled with God’s heavenly hosts and a baby King being born in a stable. No one among the many who spoke and wrote about these events had any reason to fabricate or misrepresent what happened. It only took faith to comprehend what they were seeing!
Strangely, it was fear that caused some to miss the blessing of the first Christmas. “When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him.” (Matthew 2:3) They sadly forfeited the joy of receiving history’s holiest announcement! The incarnation had finally taken place and they, “…beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
When God created a traveling star, enabled the virgin birth, and sent His dear Son to be our Savior – many naturally questioned the meaning of the events related to His arrival. The first Christmas brought mankind face-to-face with a reality so powerful that observers had to either kneel before heaven’s incarnate King, like the wise men, or later sadly turn away from Him like the rich young ruler. Heaven’s matchless blessing has always called for our decision. Accepting God’s grace is a choice!
Christmas leaves us with no middle ground. If we truly understand what the shepherds experienced, then we will humbly join the world’s other early believers in saying, “…We have found the Messiah.” (John 1:41) God literally loved us enough to send His precious Son to give us forgiveness, purpose, and eternal life! Any human excuse for disregarding God’s heavenly announcement made in Bethlehem is rendered useless when it is compared with the love, joy, and peace that fully arrived during – the first advent!
The realization that the four Gospel authors were each deeply sincere men with excellent proven character – enables us to understand how God could use them. The fact is, they were inspired to write overlapping accounts of the same historic events.
The events that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were led to report, resoundingly confirmed Isaiah’s prophesy, “…unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace…” (Isaiah 9:6)
The global message of Christmas reveals heaven’s majesty and God’s love for all people. For that reason, plan ahead and quietly pause during your Christmas celebration to discuss the significance of His birth. From the first handful of shepherds, to about 30% of the world’s population who now worship Him – the purpose of Christmas is currently being experienced. The new King’s name, Emmanuel, says it all – it literally means “God with us!” Let’s rejoice together and share His “good news” this Christmas!
By Billie Hanks Jr.