“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”—Isaiah 9:6 (ESV).
When a baby is born, we celebrate. Parents count toes and fingers. Are they all there? I wonder if Mary was concerned about that.
Keeping her Son warm and protected from the dirty straw was probably at the top of her list. She wrapped Him in swaddling clothes. Luke 2:7 says, “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn.”
In Luke 2, we also read about the first visitors welcomed by the young couple. “When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
Born of a Virgin
We know the story of God’s amazing gift of love. Love is why a teenage girl was chosen by God to carry, give birth and raise His Son.
Mary was a virgin, engaged to Joseph. In Luke 1:46-55, Mary sings God’s praises for choosing her to be the mother of Jesus. “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed.”
Only God’s love for mankind could lead to a virgin birth. The baby, born in such simple surroundings to bring hope to a sinful world, was love Incarnate. Love wasn’t born in luxury but in a filthy stable, surrounded by livestock. Author C.S. Lewis said, “Once in our world, a stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world.”
Born to Love
One of the most well-known Bible verses is John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Love came down to save us from ourselves. God, Himself took on the form of a human baby. John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
But the ultimate measure of God’s love was not revealed in the manger. Evangelist Billy Graham said, “God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, ‘I love you.’”
The Transforming Love of Jesus
1 John 4:19 tells us “We love because He first loved us.”
Through experiencing God’s love for me, I’ve learned it’s only through His amazing grace that we can learn to love (and forgive) others, especially the unlovable. Responding angrily or impatiently to a cranky co-worker, a pesky neighbor, or a stranger cutting us off in traffic can lead us to question how God could love us.
Christian author Philip Yancey wrote, “Sociologists have a theory of the looking-glass self: you become what the most important person in your life (wife, father, boss, etc.) thinks you are. How would my life change if I truly believed the Bible’s astounding words about God’s love for me, if I looked in the mirror and saw what God sees?”
God’s Relentless Love
Pastor and author Max Lucado said, “The story of Christmas is the story of God’s relentless love for us.”
What should we do with that love? Don’t wait to be moved by the Christmas spirit to express love. A spirit of love should prevail over all hatred and bitterness each morning we wake to God’s glorious presence.
When love came down at Christmas, we were given the greatest gift of all. Love wasn’t wrapped in shiny paper and topped with a bow but wrapped in swaddling clothes.
I always love hearing from my readers. Please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts, or visit my blog for more inspiration at www.carolaround.com. If you need a speaker or workshop leader, you can contact me at the above e-mail or through my website. I’d be delighted to hear from you.
Photo credit: CBN.com