ADVENT: Fear’s Tension Conquered by HOPE’s Resolution

Hello, HOPE-lovers!

It’s December, which means it’s beginning to look, sound, taste, and feel a lot like Christmas!  This is truly your HOPEful Hipster’s favorite time of year and I wanted to attempt something new:

A running ADVENT post.  I know…I’m already behind!  But that’s the beauty of this format.  Each day, I will add a new Scripture and thought for the Advent of God in the Person of Jesus.

I had never done Advent until a few years ago, and it has blessed my family and I so much that I just had to share. I pray that you will be blessed in a similar manner.

What is ADVENT?

Advent is Latin meaning “coming.”  Within the context of Christmas, it carries the idea of anticipating Jesus, the expected One.

To signify the many years of anticipation mixed with agony endured by God’s people, in remembrance we sing lyrics like, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.

For thousands of years, God’s people waited with baited breath for the reality of Immanuel, “God with us.”  And like the people of former generations, we too long for the prophetic fulfillment of God’s direct, unhibited access permeating all of creation — the SHALOM of God.

More than ever, especially as I contemplate the political and overall cultural climate, humanity is yearning for its fears to be met with HOPE, the consummation of broken earth with healing heaven.

And so, it is in this suspended “moment” where we believe, dream, and HOPE — not because we already possess perfection but because we have received PROMISE of such perfection from the Person, Jesus Christ, through whom renewal, rescue, and release is possible and will be permanent.


Do you enjoy the art of cooking?  How do you feel about suspense movies or literature?  Jazz music?  Or what about making puzzles?

Various activities of life carry an intended “tension,” a whetting of the appetite for resolution.  And although it is undesirable, this is healthy for humanity; it tickles our natural drives for achievement, knowledge, growth, progress, development and even intimacy.

People who flee from tension stop pushing, planning, growing and advancing. This is what we call “settling.” Comfort creates comatose creatures and convenience kills.

Let me be “DIRECT” in what I mean…

Like bread crumbs dropped throughout our days, God weaves together pieces of PROMISE, the HOPE of resolution, within our tension.

For each day of Advent, I will include a “piece” of PROMISE from the Scriptures illustrating how God has always (and will always) meet our fears with HOPE, our tensions with resolution.

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:15

Within the most tragic chapter of Scripture we read of the utter desolation upon God’s goodness within creation.  But immediately, God, the violated party, provides and promises HOPE to our devastation.

Satan, the great adversary, would be defeated.  The victory will be with God (“her offspring”) as He fights and wins back His creation.  The curse will be CRUSHED through the cross!

The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. Genesis 49:10

The scepter and staff were held by those in power.  Jesus, descendant from the tribe of Judah, will rule and reign forever.  The Lion of Judah, the perfect propitiation on behalf of believing humanity, will govern perfectly and we will find our ultimate HOPE satisfied under His rulership.  

Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb.  Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning.  For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you.  You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. And when you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service.  And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord‘s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped. Exodus 12:21-27

Jesus, the Passover Lamb who takes away the sins of the world, died so that we do not need to face the curse of death.  By faith, we “pass” under the blood of the lamb and the HOPE of redemption is secured through the curse-crushing cross!

Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering that is for the people and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it over the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat. Thus he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions, all their sins… Leviticus 16:15-16

The “wages” of sin is death.  For hundreds of years, an annual animal sacrifice took upon itself the guilt of the people.  In so doing, both satisfaction for God’s holiness and mercy for the people’s wrongdoing were achieved.  This practice, however, never sufficiently paid the penalty of sin, hence, the yearly repitition.  Jesus, the fulfillment of this symbolic ritual, offers the HOPE in securing both a compensated Creator and a purified people.

And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever. 2 Samuel 7:16

Jesus, descendant of King David, is sovereign forever.  This is to fulfill the promise God made to King David, although David died and his kingdom withered away. Through the righteous “branch” of Jesus, God’s greatness will be evident for eternity — an enduring HOPE for humanity.

For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. Psalm 16:10

This is a recognized prophecy concerning the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  He would die in order to take away our sins, but He would not stay in that state.  In fact, HOPE would manifest so quickly that the power of God would not allow the body of Jesus to even see decay.  

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet  I can count all my bones—they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. Psalm 22:14-18

The beauty and amazing depth to Scripture is revealed here; very real struggle for King David also prophetically spoke of the Savior’s death upon the cross.  The Son of God, completely drained of vitality, suffered at the hands of scoffers.  The cruel evildoers crucified Jesus and then disrespectfully gambled for his leftover belongings.  This scene epitomizes what appeared to be history’s most HOPEless moment.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14

Jesus’ entry into our world would be like no other — it would be nothing less than miraculous.  And this miraculous “sign” would not just be found in His entrance but more so in His residing permanence — Immanuel, meaning that “God is with us.” Our HOPE is secured and suspended between the first and second Advent of Christ, but for Israel, these words could not have come at a better time! Facing looming extinction, God assured them that He has always had a plan for them. And through Him who was born of the virgin, the rest of the world can be benefactors of this God who sustains and remains with His people. No more lonely Christmases!

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. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. Isaiah 9:6-7

This is probably the most well-known prophecy concerning Jesus. A child would be born and to us a son (Son of God, Son of Man) would be given. Because He is the son, the most perfect representative of His Father, He would be qualified to bring sinful people back to their holy God. And because of His success, He will be honored like God Himself. Following in the line of King David, Jesus’ kingdom will forever expand God’s perfect peace, justice and righteousness.

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins. Isaiah 11:1-5

Israel’s disobedience cut them down to a stump. But God’s mercy would emerge as a shoot from the stump of Jesse, an Israelite man whose lineage would bring forth the Savior of the world. This branch will live a distinct life, one unlike any other, He will bear the fruit of souls, and He will faithfully rule in righteousness.   

And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. Isaiah 25:7-8

The final enemy of a life-creating, giving, and sustaining God is death. In thrilling irony, the ancient Canaanite god of death, Mot, who was symbolized as a mouth, is ultimately consumed by the risen Christ! Sin, Satan, death, and all of their effects shall be swallowed up forever. The great “swallower” has been swallowed and through God’s victorious feast we will receive our ultimate healing and restoration. 

Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53

This is probably the most compelling and compact foretelling of Christ in the Old Testament. Jesus was not the Savior any of us would pick; nothing would naturally draw us to Him. We see this clearly illustrated through the rejection He faced among His own family and countrymen. The good news is this: God, despite humanity’s deviation, comes down to us and bridges the gap. He would do what’s necessary to bring us back, even innocently suffering and dying without complaint. He would die among the wicked and be buried among the rich. This has been God’s will all along — to permanently redeem and reconcile His people through the sacrifice of Jesus. 

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’ Jeremiah 23:5-6

Jesus, the “righteous branch,” would descend from Israel’s greatest king. David was a man after God’s heart, but another descendant of out of Jesse’s stump, as prophesied by Isaiah, would rise up to execute perfect justice and righteousness. He would be His people’s source of salvation and security.

And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken. Ezekiel 34:23-24

God cares for His people. In times of despair, He watches closely and protects them. Like King David, God would be a shepherd to them to ensure their well-being and future standing.

…and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And 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 one that shall not be destroyed. Daniel 7:13-14

Humanity’s Rescuer and Redeemer, King Jesus (son of man), shall one day receive His rightful place with the Father (Ancient of Days) to perpetually rule and reign over creation. The creator, sustainer, redeemer, and HOPE of humanity will stand in complete victory.

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace. Micah 5:2-5a

The Messiah was foretold to come from a small, insignificant town called Bethlehem, the same town King David was from. His birth would initiate the exodus home for God’s people. From strength, Jesus will shepherd them and bring majesty to the Father while securing peace for His people.

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17

God is with us — this is the message of Christmas. He brings salvation, He adores us, He gives us rest, and celebrates over us. This is an unmatchable love. 

Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch. For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day. In that day, declares the Lord of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree.” Zechariah 3:8-10

God had foretold that He would raise up His servant like a branch from a dead stump. He will not only rule, but He will remove the penalty for sin. This is the HOPE offered to humanity — the forgiveness that only Christ offers. Go, invite your neighbors.

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Zechariah 9:9

Humanity’s Rescuer is described by the following: righteous, saving, and humble. His arrival exceeds that of a celebrity or king, but we won’t recognize it. Instead of a red carpet, King Jesus will come onto the scene riding a donkey. 

Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. Malachi 3:1

In addition to the Rescuer, God would send someone who would pave the way. This messenger would be likened to Elijah, pronouncing that the kingdom of God was at hand. John the Baptist, the forerunner to Jesus, preached to Israel that the lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world was in their midst.

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. Luke 1:5-13

Up to this point, we have been looking through the lens of promise. Every Scripture was looking forward, some a few hundred years, some a few thousand! But now we get to glance through the lens of fulfillment!  

Meet Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, cousin to Mary and parents to John the Baptist. It is through this family we see ancient promises found in Isaiah 40:1-5, Malachi 3:1, and 4:5-6 brought to life.

As leaders within the religious community, Zechariah and Elizabeth “were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.” No higher compliments can be paid, and yet in their high standing they lacked something. And this void was a great source of pain, reproach, and doubt for them. Voids, those places where we are powerless, are invitations for God to do the “impossible” and answer our prayers.

And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.  And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God,  and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”  And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”  And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.  And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.”  And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple.  And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute.  And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home. After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.  And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father,  but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.”  And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.”  And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called.  And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered.  And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God.  And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea,  and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.

And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel. Luke 1:14-25, 57-80

Yesterday, we were introduced to one of the two primary nativity families and saw how ancient promises found in Isaiah 40:1-5, Malachi 3:1, and 4:5-6 were brought to life.

John the Baptist, son to Zechariah and Elizabeth and foretold forerunner (see Mt. 3:3; 11:10; Mk. 1:1-3; Jn. 1:23) to his second cousin, Jesus the Messiah, was the final and GREATEST among the prophets of God. (Mt. 11:9-11) He came in the spirit, not a reincarnation, of Elijah, even down to the dress. (see 2 Kgs. 1:8Mt. 11:13; Jn. 1:19-21

His birth and ministry would bring joy, gladness, and rejoicing. Filled with the Holy Spirit, he would initiate the reality of God’s redemption.

The events of this story were so incredible that even a priest’s family could not grasp them. 

A God who visits, redeems, saves, fulfills His promises, gives mercy, remembers, delivers, illumines, and provides peace to His people…who can grasp this?!

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. Matthew 1:18-25

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” 

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home. Luke 1:26-56

Over the past two days, we have been getting acquainted with one of the two primary nativity families — Zechariah, Elizabeth, and John. Now, we meet the lead characters in this unfolding drama. Through Joseph, Mary, and Jesus we shall see all of Scripture and history culminating!

From the beginning, when God was violated through the fall of Adam and Even, God was already planning provision to bring humanity back to Himself. (Gen. 3:15) It would be through a virgin (Isa. 7:14) that a child would be born (Isa. 9:6-7), the foretold “shoot” out of Israel’s stump (Isa. 11:1-5; Jer. 23:5-6; Zech. 3:8-10) would rise. All of history was looking to this moment! (Gal. 4:4) And this son would not only possess the throne of David forever (2 Sam. 7; Gen. 49:10), but He would restore God’s presence with humanity once again.

Nothing is impossible with God.  His mercy knows no bounds and defies all odds. May we, like these families, respond willingly with gratefulness and praise!

* For more about the amazing example set before us by Mary and Elizabeth, click here. *

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 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. Luke 2:1-7

In today’s reading, we see the Son of God born of the virgin and more prophecy come to life.  Today, it revolves around the place of the Messiah’s birth due to Caesar’s decree for registration. (Mic. 5:2) Jesus is the eternal ruler of Israel who would be born in the small city of David, the town of Bethlehem. God condescends to the “dirt” of humanity, wrapped in flesh, laying within a cave’s stable.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
    weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
    she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene. Matthew 2

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 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. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. Luke 2:8-20

Merry Christmas! The climax of advent has arrived. No more waiting.

Jesus has just been born and the news is spreading. God’s mission will not be stopped.

The birth of the King of kings is good news to some, but it is a threat to others. Herod’s plans, however, would not thwart the coming Kingdom of Christ. (Hos. 11:1; Jer. 31:15; Isa. 11:1

God is here — Immanuel is our reality. But how do we respond to God coming into our midst? With worship or worry? Do we see Jesus through what He gives or through what we “lose?” Whose glory are we about?

May we, like Mary, treasure and perpetually ponder this incarnation, the most original and awe-inspiring story ever.

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