Responses to Christmas: The Least of These
This last part might be a bit fanciful, but one of the joys of Christmas is having some fun.
When Jesus was born, we read: “She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7)
Immediately following His birth, we read: “When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.” (Luke 2:15-16)
Eight days after He entered our world, we read: “When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: ‘a pair of doves or two young pigeons.'” (Luke 2:22-24)
A while later, we read: “Magi from the east came to Jerusalem.” (Matthew 1:1)
What is connection in all of these?
Those are barely mentioned, if at all, in each segment of the story: the animals!
Think about it:
- Animals had to give up their place to eat for the night.
- Animals were left alone for the night.
- Animals had to die for the Lord!
- Animals had to help carry worshipers and gifts for the Savior of the world.
When Mary and Joseph laid Jesus in the manger, a feeding trough for animals, this meant that for at least that night and into the morning the animals gave up their dining table.
When the shepherds left their herd for the night, as I mentioned the other day, the sheep lost their security system for a while.
When Jesus was dedicated, two pigeons gave up their lives!
When the Wise Men journeyed from the East, it was their camels and horses who bore the brunt of the excursion and lose any comfort during the trip (though I am sure the Wise Men would have mentioned a thing or two about riding animals through desert and mountain paths).
Would you give up your dining table for a poor baby? Would you like knowing you were unprotected for the night? Would like to carry someone else’s belongings for hundreds of miles (or several dozen … no one really knows exactly how far they travelled)? Would you die for someone?
My take on these under-mentioned characters is this: they were unwilling participants … actually, more like unawares … in this story of our Lord’s birth, yet they can still teach us something.
There are times when God will call us to go hungry for the sake of the Kingdom.
There are times when God will call us to step out of our comfort zones for the sake of the Kingdom.
There are times when God will call us to give up our lives for the glorification of Jesus Christ.
I can almost guarantee you that these things happen frequently throughout our lives without us even realizing it.
Think of Chinese believers who are worshiping together in someone’s home, when authorities come in and break up the meeting.
Think of Asian/Arab believers who are going to church, and they get beat up as they walk for simply believing in Jesus.
Think of African believers who sit in prison for reading the Bible at home.
Think of the missionaries who die entering a town, yet their children are able to share the gospel with hundreds or thousands through their tragedy.
Think of that time you saw a man on the side of the street, begging for money, and you gave him or fast food sandwich to help him survive a couple more days.
We are all called to serve. We do not always get an angel or a star to warn us and guide us before our service starts.
Merry Christmas, and peace and joy from our Lord to you!