Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Have you ever had a conversation with someone you are very close to, and found yourself (or them) suddenly needing to say, “Huh? What?” My Aunt and I have many jovial conversations punctuated with this phrase, or at least a look that says the same thing. It keeps us on our toes, laughing all the way.
Usually it comes at a time when we have gone quiet for a minute, and one of us starts talking about something that we have been thinking about for a minute or two. And usually this means that we start in the middle of the subject with no introduction and we are expecting the other to know what we are talking about. Good luck there. So we end up having to back up and tell “the rest of the story” so the other person can catch up.
As I have been reading the Christmas stories from Matthew and Luke, I was caught by the phrase, “ because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7) I suddenly saw what appears in my mind to be an “after thought.” We make a really big deal out of the nativity scene (and it is well that we do,) but we aren’t even told of these circumstances until Luke tells us that Mary “placed Him in a manger, because….” This could have been a “Huh? What?” moment for the reader, had he not gone back and briefly explained how that came to be.
Looking at Matthew’s account we find that he tells us Joseph was assured by the angel that all was well and that Joseph then went about his business as was necessary. He took Mary, who was at least 3 months along, (see Luke 1:56) and they had a very long trip ahead of them. (I suggest you take a really close look at a map to see how far Nazareth is from Bethlehem.) That was no “over the river and through the woods” little trip. But neither Matthew nor Luke say much about the trip or the inn. Matthew skips over the whole scene of the angels and shepherds altogether, mentioning only the Angels assurance to Joseph and the fact that the birth happened and the child was named Jesus, as per God’s instruction.
Have you ever read a story to a child and tried to skip some of it? Maybe you thought the child had gone to sleep but they called you on it. Unless it is a new book, the child knows that story by heart and will not accept even one word missing as they listen. But look at Matthew. Seemingly out of no where, he is suddenly talking about the Magi, who started on their trip at the time Jesus was born but did not arrive until “the child” was at home with Joseph and Mary and they were receiving guests. Huh? What? Where’s the manger scene? Where are the angels? Someone needs to back up and let us in on what happened before the Magi came.
Luke comes to the rescue. Technically, starting with Luke 1 & 2, then going to Mathew makes better sense for us. But even in Luke, there is not a big deal made about where Jesus was born. “It just so happens” that he was placed in a manager, “because there was no room for them in the inn.” Of course nothing “just so happens” in God’s plans and under His guidance. It is important that Jesus was born in a lowly place and grew up in a lowly household, with a normal family, learning and working as any child or man should be doing as they grow.
We celebrate everything about Jesus, because everything He did or said or suffered, was all for us, personally. He knows us very personally and He lived the perfect life for us knowing that we could not do that ourselves. We thank Him for that and we celebrate BIG time, every chance we get. What He did, even being born at all, was very costly for Him. We owe Him our lives. Let’s pull out all the stops and go for it. Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! His name is Holy!
May our celebration be all that it can be in sharing our lives with His and praising Him loudly and clearly at this wonderful time of the year!