Growing up in the church we told the story of Jesus’ birth in many different ways. Usually it required adult robes and bath towels on heads. We went through the steps as the leader would instruct, and get it together enough that all the moms, dads, aunts and uncles and grandparents would be bursting with pride!
Once on stage for the pageant. The little lamb that was only two wouldn’t stay put. The angel’s wings were causing her robe to slide up in the front making her feel like she was choking, so she was constantly pulling on it. The wise men were wearing their fake beards of which one was falling off, while the other one was itching beneath and could not stand still. A small shepherd sat down by the manger and grabbed the baby doll and rocked it, and another shepherd quietly dug into his nose repeatedly. Mary has a cold, and Joseph fell off his bike yesterday and is adorning a black eye.
The one thing that these plays depicted was something that we were not aware of at the time. We were not perfect, and neither were those that were directly involved with the Nativity story.
In actuality these people were brought together by the Creator Himself. He chooses a young virtuous woman who places God on the throne of her heart. In fact the angel that appeared to Mary said that she was “highly favored.” It must have been astounding to hear those words about yourself from none other than an angel of the Lord. Mary was betrothed to Joseph, and now she has to try and explain the pregnancy to him. Well, God being wiser than any other, knew that Joseph needed a better explanation, so Joseph too was visited by an angel only this time in a dream. Joseph understood. I suppose as much as was humanly possible. So now God has set the stage for a event that would forever change the world.
Let us consider each person who played a role in Jesus’ Nativity. Each one was a miracle all by themselves that fit together like a spiritual jig saw puzzle.
Mary. The Bible describes her as “being great with child.” If that doesn’t explain it enough she gave birth when they arrived in Bethlehem. “Great with child probably meant she had not seen her feet in at least a month. The baby was more than likely laying on or doing calisthenics on her bladder, and she had to “go” a lot. Then top that off the trip to Bethlehem was anywhere from four to seven days long. I can’t imagine making that trip in her condition. Mary pondered all things that happened in her heart, so she must have been a woman of few words. However, this young lady knew she carried the Savior of all, even if she did not understand either the blessings or horrors she would occur in that little baby’s life.
Joseph. A newly married carpenter. Taking responsibility for Mary and her child. Most likely he is the first step-father that we know of. He must ensure that the journey is as easy for Mary as possible which was an improbable task. He cared for her deeply and had cherished her, yet there must have been a million questions in his mind about what was to come. On this trip, he never rode. His feet must have been sore and maybe raw from blisters where his sandals rubbed with all the repetitious stepping. Joseph made it his life’s duty to honestly care for Mary and their family as long as he lived.
Shepherds. Minding their business on the hillside near Bethlehem. The stars winkled against the midnight blue sky and not a sound was heard except the gentle baying of the sheep as they bedded down. Without warning, an angel appeared out of the darkness. That had to be a shocker. An illuminated man explaining that God’s son was born in all places a stable. Then the Bible describes it as “a multitude of the heavenly host” joined the angel. It had to be as bright as the Vegas strip! This still dark night looking like noon day! After they delivered the news the shepherds conversed among themselves. There was no way that they were going to just stay there and count sheep. They had been taught the Holy Scriptures. They HAD to go and see the prophesy being fulfilled. Excitement and awe must have overcome their hearts and minds as they found their way to that little stable and beheld their Lord.
Wise Men, Magi, three Kings. These kings were star gazers. Wealthy. And had also studied the scriptures. They knew that this star was a sign that the Christ had come to Earth. No one ever knew how or when the Lord would appear, yet here is His sign in the sky. This was history in the making. These magi desired to follow the star and view the King for themselves. There journey would have taken quite a long time. We show them with our creche as the same time as the shepherds, however, that was not really the case. Their trip began at a far greater distance. They of course had servants and camels, and tents which would have made the journey a bit more pleasing, yet it was still quite a feat. The scripture actually says that they found Mary and the baby inside a house when they arrived. Jesus was slightly older than when He lay in the manger bed, but He was and is still the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Bethlehem star remained in place until the magi came and worshiped Him.
Once King Herod is added to the mix we definitely have a dynamic story. Because of the visit of the Kings, Herod worried about this King that was newly born. He knew the prophesies as well, and was not planning on contending for his throne with another man. Of course, his shallow mindedness gave birth to a rash decision. He commanded the guards to kill all children two and under to get rid of this Savior. He could take no chances in losing his power. What a horrible moment for those parents and siblings to see their babies precious slaughtered . Snatched from mother’s arms and murdered. However, God ensured the safety of the baby Jesus for He has a divine purpose. A destiny to save ALL mankind.
Now we are at the time of the year when we dust off the Creche from the storage boxes and put the pieces in place on the mantel. This time when you do, think of all the miracles that surrounded the birth of our Lord Jesus. It also couldn’t hurt to thank God just once more for He has done great and marvelous things!