Remember when you were a kid, and each year seemed so slow? Your birthday had to be celebrated in segments, the half birthday, because otherwise it felt like an eternity of waiting. I think a kid must have also invented Christmas in July.
My husband told me recently that he believes life goes by so much slower for us as a child because we take such delight in the small—the soon—things. When we are adults, we look way ahead, to when we get our dream job, when school has passed, when we retire. It is coming, we are always thinking. It is coming.
This story is about that.
Advent is about Jesus coming to earth. This passage is the telling of the beginning of that story.
Can you imagine Mary, when the angel appeared and she becomes pregnant with Jesus? Unfathomable. Joseph and Mary had made plans to marry, and in the meantime Jesus comes in an unconventional way, not as expected.
I can see Mary, her face tear-streaked, full of joy and fear, as she relays the blessed news to her Joseph that Jesus, in fact, would come from her womb.
Joseph, in love, yet doubting her story, makes a decision to cut off the engagement from his beloved Mary. He would do it quietly.
Spurgeon put it well when he spoke of Joseph in this part of the story, He said, “When we have to do a severe thing, let us choose the tenderest manner. Maybe we will not have to do it at all.”
But before Joseph can, he gets awoken by an angelic being, and the angel says: “Joseph, Son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, they will call his name Immanuel, which means: God with us.”
I love this part of the story. God names his Son. And with this name He wants to speak to us.
JESUS IS COMING AND NOW BECAUSE OF THAT,
GOD IS WITH US.
God wants to be with us. WHAT GLORY! I wish I had known this my entire life. What a huge difference it makes in even our stories. This name.
It seems He wants us to see Him in person, in this man, Jesus, so that we no longer have to wonder what it looks like to live for Him, to look at Him, to understand His heart. And He reminds us that it is through Jesus that God comes.
Let us also look at HOW God came down to us.
Coming as a tiny baby, God, in the form of Jesus. He wasn’t born in a castle even though he is a King. He was born of humble means in a manger.
When the baby was born, King Herod was deeply disturbed to hear that the wise men wanted to come to worship the baby instead of him. Such a drastic comparison is found here between baby Jesus (God with us!) and this King Herod. King Herod was terrified of baby Jesus, terrified to lose his glory as the one to worship. When he speaks to the wise men, he lies in hopes to destroy Jesus, saying, “Go to Bethlehem, search carefully for this child, and when you find him, come back and tell me so that I might worship him too!”
The wise men follow a star; I can almost see them traveling, with their heads up toward heaven, following the star to Bethlehem. They find their Jesus: God as King as a baby in a dirty stinky manger; how can we doubt his love? It is remarkable to think of God like this. Through Jesus’ whole life, He shows God is like this. He is KING and yet, he chooses a donkey over a chariot. He is KING and yet, he chooses to spend his life with the lowly, teaching us what it is like for God to live “with us.” Teaching us the kind of life it looks like to live like Christ.
Everyday Jesus is coming, into the world. It is through the way we move our hands to serve the church and the world, it is through how we give, what we care about, how we love orphans and the poor. It is through the love He offers us that brings us healing to our deepest wounds. It is because of his coming that our sins are wiped away and buried with him in his death. As we are loved, we want nothing more than to love: so we do battle darkness in this way, with love. Inviting people into our home, the way we do business, the way we talk to each other, in the way we serve the world and love the things God loves. We do battle by becoming more like Jesus, and by letting Him come. He is coming as we reach for him in prayer or by reading His words.
How can we, like a child looks forward, take pleasure in the soon things, of Jesus, watching him become real in our daily living. How is He coming in our hearts today?
Still, like the wise-men, I hope we can keep our eyes up, watching and waiting for this same Jesus who comes in our hearts daily to come back and take us all home.
“Those who look for Jesus will see him: those who truly see him will
worship him: those who worship him will consecrate their substance to
Him.” - Spurgeon