The following guest post is a special Christmas series from George Lockhart of the Youth Culture Report:
There’s nothing like the anticipation of getting a gift you really want at Christmas! From looking at a catalog to sending letters to Santa, Christmas morning holds great expectation and hopes of getting what we dreamed of and desired in previous weeks!
Imagine the anticipation that came with such an expectation of the Messiah.
People had been waiting for hundreds, even thousands of years for the Messiah and now He was here…but where’s all the partying? Where are all the decorations? Where’s the pomp and circumstance? The King of Kings had arrived but there was very little fanfare. As Jesus makes His crib a lowly manger in a stable with only humble shepherds attending His birth, He demonstrates a very important truth: You don’t always get what you expect the way you expected it.
Some of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten have been most unexpected! They were surprises. They were unplanned. This is no doubt the case for Mary, Joseph and Jesus! Jesus was quite a surprise for them! For people who had longed for the Messiah, Jesus coming as a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths laying in a manger in Bethlehem was not what they expected. People would have surely expected a coronation with festive music and a royal celebration not a virgin named Mary whose husband was a carpenter!
Even as Jesus grew up, people couldn’t believe anything good would come out of Bethlehem, so how could He be the Messiah? Because Jesus had come from such a humble crib, people doubted His teaching, His lifestyle and His deity. He didn’t make it easy for people who had such high expectations of who and what God should be. By choosing a crib in a stable, Jesus was making clear that God doesn’t value the same kind of things we do. From riches to rags this King would come and completely undo all sin had done.
Not only did Jesus come in an unexpected way He welcomed unexpected people. Shepherds were the only ones who attended His birth. Of all the people invited to come and visit Jesus in the manger, angels were sent to summon shepherds! These were not fancy, high-society people! They were not gonna get dressed to the hilt donning the most ritzy clothes. No. They would simply come as they were: smelly, dirty, shepherds. In other words: common people. Jesus surrounded His crib with common people, people like you and me! That was certainly unexpected!
From the beginning of his earthly journey, Jesus welcomed the common man. His angels announced good news of great joy along with peace on earth and good will toward men. This announcement was made to the blue-collar workers of His day: shepherds. They journeyed to see what these strange tidings of joy meant and got more than they could have expected. Jesus’ crib had become a place of worship. No one would have ever guessed that this manger would hold the expected Messiah.
In the same way, no one may expect that your heart would hold the Messiah or that you would be invited into His presence…but it’s true! Jesus longs to dwell in the lives of men, He wants to make our hearts His crib! Anyone may come to His crib. Not what you expected? But it’s true. He will live in anyone who will receive Him. Not what you expected? But it’s true. His crib proves Jesus does the unexpected!
PART III TOMORROW