BY CHARLES E. McCRACKEN
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” JOHN 1:14
The Nativity as recorded by Luke is so familiar many Christians can recite it from memory. More than a story, it is the remarkable account of God entering into the realm of His creation:
And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Lk. 2:7)
With centuries of visual depictions from which to draw, our imaginations are quick to conjure a romantic picture of the place where God entered time and space.
“And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Lk. 2:7).
We may envision a rustic though charming little stable smelling of fresh straw and knotty pine—a quaint secluded alcove removed from the noise and commotion of Bethlehem bulging at the seams with travelers.
In reality, the scene was in all probability quite different. It is possible that the only available shelter was beneath the watchtower at the edge of the shepherds’ fields on the outskirts of Bethlehem that served as shelter for sacrificial lambs during lambing season (Micah 4:8).
If the baby in the manger were just another mortal, there would be little of significance to remember year after year. Even today, the number of babies entering the world via the sterile environment of a hospital is relatively small. Had the infant in the manger been nothing more than the offspring of poverty-stricken parents, there would be no reason to take particular notice.
Babies have no say in the socio-economic status of their parents!
Babies have no ability to choose the place of their birth, how they are clothed or where they sleep! There is nothing remarkable about a baby accepting circumstances over which it has no control.
It is only when we recognize the newborn in the manger as God Incarnate does the significance of the humble scene burst upon us.
Paul declares that, “He [Jesus Christ] is before all things, and in Him all things consist“ (Col. 1:17). As fully God, He chose the set time, place and even circumstances of His birth. With that in mind, it was no coincidence that Mary gave birth to the Son of God in the same place where sacrifice lambs were observed during lambing season!
But the drama that unfolded in Bethlehem is not the end of the story. The babe laid in a manger promised to come again!
Born in obscurity and humility, there will be no mistaking His identity when He returns as King to rule the earth (Is.11:4; Rev. 12:5).
The Hebrew Scriptures present Israel’s Messiah as both Savior and king. However, His coming at the end of the age emphasizes that He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, not only of Israel, but the whole world. The prophet Daniel observed,
“I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed” (Dan. 7:13-14).
Jesus described His own return saying,
“Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Mt. 24:30).
With a span of over two thousand years since His first advent, it may appear as though prophecies regarding our Lord’s return in power and glory are the dreams of wishful thinkers. For people of authentic biblical faith, however, since the promises of His First Coming were fulfilled literally, we have confident assurance that the prophecies concerning His return will also become a reality!
The babe in the manger, virtually unnoticed by the press of humanity in Bethlehem is, “coming [again] with clouds, and every eye will see Him” (Rev. 1:7).
As you gather with family and friends, remember that the Nativity is remarkable not because a baby was born under adverse circumstances; but rather, please consider that the One laid in a manger is the promised Messiah and Savior who will return in power and glory as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Mt. 24:4-5)!
Charles E. McCracken is an international Bible teacher, long-time friend of Israel and advocate for the Jewish people. With 40 plus years of ministry experience, Rev. McCracken is known for authenticity in communicating biblical truth that makes his presentations relevant for those seeking to understand the significance of Israel and the church in Bible prophecy. He staunchly supports the nation of Israel and the Jewish people’s right to exist and live in peace.
© Charles E. McCracken 2016, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author via Contact Form under ABOUT. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Categories: GROW Through the 25 Days of Christmas