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Exalting Jesus

We live in a world that pushes the pursuit of greatness. Everyone is to take all of their ability and skill and maximize their potential. Become glorious– wealthy, healthy and wise. Be capable, competent, strong, secure, and independent. It often ends with self-worship – idolatry.  The whole goal of life can turns into getting your own glory, setting up your own fame, and chasing your own reputation. Some Christian theology goes right along with this world based idea, saying, “Love Jesus, he’ll make you rich, he’ll make you happy, he’ll make you brilliant, he’ll make you powerful, he’ll make you victorious.”

John the Baptist had a very different viewpoint. His desire was for Jesus to increase and for himself to decrease. Are you exalting Jesus with your life?

jesus

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John 3:22-24

After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized (for John had not yet been put in prison).

Working together

Between the baptism of Jesus and the arrest of John the two cousins ministered side-by-side for a brief period. Jesus’ disciples were baptizing people along with John’s disciples, both preaching repentance of sins.

John 3:25-26

Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.”

Competing ministries

John’s disciples brought a complaint to John regarding the success of Jesus. Human nature is often competitive, even when advancing the Kingdom of God.

John 3:27-28

John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’”

What God gives

John did what God gave him to do. As the forerunner he could do no more. John let his followers know people were flocking to Jesus because God willed it. John did not come to intrude on the place of the Messiah.

John 3:29-30

“The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.”

A friend’s joy

John introduced the bride (the church) to the bridegroom (Jesus). John’s joy was complete in knowing Jesus ministered alongside him in the desert. His desire was for Jesus to continually increase, while he, the servant, decreased.

Making Jesus famous

Followers of Jesus are not in competition with one another. They work in cooperation in order for lost people to become introduced to the Savior.

The goal of every believer should be decreasing so Jesus might increase, in their lives and throughout the world.”

The challenge

Cooperate with others! Work together to see Jesus become famous. Put Him first in your life and encourage others to do the same.

What can you do to increase God’s work in your life? Share your comments below.

God is Love

One of the most famous verses in the Bible is John 3:16, sometimes displayed at football games, on vehicle stickers and roadway signs. The verse contains the message of God’s love, Jesus coming, and eternal life. The verses that follow disclose the heart-breaking desire of people to remain in darkness. Are you living in the light?

love

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John 3:16-17

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

The divine gift

God loves more than a people group, gender, or nation. He loves the whole world. His love propelled Him to give the divine gift of His Son as a sacrifice for sin.

Although Christ’s coming brings judgment to those not believing, this was not the purpose. His aim is saving the world.”

John 3:18-19

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.

Lovers of evil

Refusing the divine gift brings judgment. People consumed with wrongdoing prefer to not be shaken out of a comfortable sinfulness. Yet if people desire darkness over light they have chosen condemnation.

John 3:20-21

For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.

Loving darkness

Those in darkness hate the light because it exposes the real person. Few like being confronted about what they do wrong. Even so, some willingly lay down pride and respond to the love of God, accepting Jesus.

The challenge

Live life in the light. Choose Jesus! Then tell others about their need to embrace God’s love in order to spend eternity with Him.

How has living in the light changed your life? Share your comments below.

Made New in Christ

While serving as School Administrator of an International school in Sudan, I had opportunity to work with people of various backgrounds. One of the Arabic teachers made the decision to follow Jesus while I was there. A person who daily came dressed in black, with a countenance to match, was transformed by the power of God. She happily greeted passerby’s with a sparkle in her eyes and a smile on her face previously not seen. Her decision to follow Jesus not only made her behavior new but also came with the promise of eternal life.

John chapter 3 reveals eternal life involves being completely remade by the power of God.

new

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John 3:1-3

There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

Being remade

Nicodemus came to Jesus impacted by the miracles he witnessed. Jesus, without delay, got to the very heart of the matter. In one sentence he cast aside everything Nicodemus stood for and challenged him to be remade by the Spirit of God.

John 3:4-8

“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”

Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”

Genuine transformation

Nicodemus refers to physical birth in his response. Does he think this more probable than someone’s nature being transformed? Every time a person comes to Christ a miracle occurs. Genuine life-change begins by divine intervention.

John 3:9-15

“How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.

Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.”

Lifted up

Jesus refers to His death as being “lifted up.” Jesus would experience the momentary humiliation of a cross that was actually the ultimate display of eternal glory. This one act would bring new life to those believing in Jesus.

Defining eternity

John’s reference to “eternal life” is about the life to come. The importance of eternity is not the quantity but the quality. When passing from this life into the next, a person moves from the earthly to the heavenly.

How is this achieved? As a gift from God, not based on human achievement. John 3:16 unpacks this idea.

The challenge

Ask Jesus to transform you completely. Be remade by the power of God and begin experiencing eternal living with Christ.

How has Jesus changed you? Share your comments below.

Confidence in Christ

Many people find their identity in family, work, religion, hobbies, sports or recreation. This reminds me of Jesus’ teaching on house building in Matthew 7:24-27. If someone’s identity is built upon temporal things, they build on faulty foundations. When troubles come there is no firm footing. If identity is found in Christ, He provides strength to stand in the midst of a changing world.

confidence

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John 2:23

Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him.

A forming faith

Miraculous signs caused people within Jerusalem to be attracted to Jesus but did not cause them to have profound faith in Him.

Faith, by definition, is not acquired “by sight.” Faith is found by acknowledging Him the Lord of your life and believing God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9).

John 2:24

But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature.

Genuine transformation

Many who witnessed Jesus perform miracles were willing to make Him a national leader but Jesus would not entrust Himself to them. His desire is for people to experience genuine transformation, not just enthusiasm for something spectacular.

There was an eternal purpose behind the miracles of Jesus.

Although He desired to address physical needs, Jesus wanted to open people’s eyes to eternity.

John 2:25

No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like.

A faulty heart

God fully knows the hearts of men. First Kings 8:39 states, “Give your people what their actions deserve, for you alone know each human heart.”

People were impressed with Jesus’ miracles, but He knew many would not fully devote their lives to Him.

Identity in Jesus

Jesus did not need human approval to stand firm in who He was, is, and forever will be. He knew Himself to be of divine origin. His confidence came from His relationship with the Heavenly Father.

As a follower of Jesus, our identity is found in Him. If you have made Jesus Lord of your life you are a child of the King. Paul relates from 2 Samuel 7:14, “I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:18).

People will have varying opinions of who you are, but Jesus sees you as a child of God.

If your confidence is in a relationship, a job title, social standing, or anything else, insecurity and fear will constantly be part of your life. Placing confidence in Christ enables you to stand on a firm foundation.

The challenge

As a follower of Jesus, confidence comes from Christ. Stand firm in faith and do not allow circumstances or people to overwhelm you.

In what ways have circumstances or people kept you from claiming an identity in Christ? Share your comments below.

Missing God

Jews have been waiting for a Messiah for thousands of years. Jesus’ messiahship was regularly challenged. Many Jews formulated their own concept of what the Messiah should do and missed the One reconciling man to God and inaugurating His Kingdom.

John 2:18-22 reveals misunderstanding the nature of Christ can cause someone to miss God’s eternal work.

god

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John 2:18

But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.”

The Messiah

Jews were questioning the rightness of Jesus’ action of cleansing the temple. They wanted a miraculous sign to authenticate this Messianic act.

A shallow understanding of God and lack of faith cause people to demand proof. I have known people who asked God to show them a sign in order to believe in Him. That is not faith. The writer of Hebrews states,

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1).

John 2:19

“All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

A gospel sign

The ultimate sign Jesus gave to the Jewish leaders was His death and resurrection. He knew they would destroy the temple (Jesus) and three days later God would raise Him up.

The religious authorities wanted a sign, but not the one Jesus ultimately gave. God works in people lives, but this often takes shape in ways different than they anticipate. His ultimate desire is for everyone to become right with Him through Jesus Christ.

John 2:20-22

“What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?”
But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said.

A spiritual temple

Commentators argue for a double meaning in His words, one referring to His death and resurrection and the other referring to the abolition of the Temple and sacrifices. Both occurred by Jesus dying on the cross and being raised from the dead.

Jesus was handed over for crucifixion by Jewish religious authorities and three days later raised from the dead. The rebuilt Temple is the New Covenant put into effect by the cross and empty tomb, a spiritual Temple.

God is greater

Isaiah shares, “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). God is at work. It is better to align yourself with His perfect plan than be consumed with questions about actions or motives. People need to come into line with what God is doing, not seeking self-rightness by challenging His plans.

The challenge

Avoid coming to God with preconceived ideas of what He desires for your life. Passionately pursue Him knowing His ways and thoughts are not of your measure or standard.

Have there been times when you have missed God? Share your comments below.

Kingdom Access

The story of the prodigal son is interesting. The brother became angry at his brother’s celebrated return. Had he not been in the field at the time, would he have guarded the doorway to the house? Are you joyfully welcoming others into the Kingdom of God or restricting their access?

As a follower of Jesus, shouldn’t you make room for others?

kingdom

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John 2:13-14

It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money.

Open eyes

As a yearly custom, Jesus celebrated the Passover at Jerusalem. He saw merchants selling and trading goods within the outer Temple area, the Court of the Gentiles. The merchants took up space where foreigners should have had access.

As followers of Jesus, it is important to become aware of what is keeping others to have access to God.

John 2:15-16

Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”

That all might hear

Jesus states why he acted so harshly, “Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” It was not the physical force but the moral power Jesus employed that emptied the courts (Morris, Gospel According to John).

The Messiah’s desire was for everyone to have access to God”

“I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.” (John 10:16)

John 2:17

Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.”

Messianic revelation

The actions of Jesus remind the disciples of Psalm 69:9 and Scripture is once again fulfilled by Jesus. “The action is not merely that of a Jewish reformer: it is a sign of the advent of the Messiah” (Hoskyns, The Fourth Gospel).

Passion for the lost

Followers of Jesus can inadvertently keep others from access to God by looking down on outsiders. Christians critical of how God-seekers appear and act need to remind themselves of the Holy Spirit’s transforming work. Christ followers should reflect the fruit of the Spirit and accurately display the character of Christ. A life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control provides others with a living gospel witness.

The challenge

Make way for others to have access to God. Be passionate for others to experience the transforming work of God in their lives.

How can you provide greater access to the message of Jesus? Share your comments below.

Abundant Life

As parents of three kids, one of the messages we try to help our children understand is that they hold the ability to ruin their own fun. If they are unwilling to follow instructions when we go to a fun place then we have to leave and the fun is short-lived. The ability to experience abundant life in Jesus is not much different. Scripture reveals obedience is part of experiencing a transforming, abundant life in Christ.

abundant

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John 2:1-8

The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.”
“Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
“Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions.

Transformation requires obedience

Jesus attends a wedding in Cana and a problem arises. Party supplies are quickly being consumed and the beverage is running low. Jesus takes ordinary water and transforms it into choice wine. What was required for this miracle to take place? Obedience. The servants needed to follow instructions for the transformation.

John 2:9-10

When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!”

The best life

Jesus transforms tasteless water into the best beverage. In like manner, Jesus takes a life without meaning and transforms it into one that is abundant.

In this act, Jesus changes the water of Judaism into the wine of Christianity, the water of Christlessness into the wine of the richness and the fullness of eternal life in Christ, the water of the law into the wine of the gospel.” (Morris, The Gospel According to John)

John 2:11-12

This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
After the wedding he went to Capernaum for a few days with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples.

Revealing Jesus

The transforming work of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life reveals the reality of Christ. Fathers and husbands, who were once abusive, change into the image of the loving heavenly Father and reveal the nature of Jesus. Angry and bitter women, making a decision to follow Jesus, reflect His glory in their relationships, expressing peace, love and joy.

The challenge

Obey Jesus and His leading. Allow Him to transform your life and experience the abundance of grace.

How can you walk in godly obedience today? Share your comments below.

The First Noel

What was it really like that first Christmas? A small middle-eastern town was packed with people on account of a mandatory census. Shepherds were keeping watch over their sheep throughout a cool night. People were unaware of the eternal implications of a new birth, a divine King.

Noel?

Noel is the French word for Christmas, from the Latin word “natalis” meaning birthday.

noel

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Announcing the Savior’s birth

“The first Noel the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay:
In fields where they lay a keeping their sheep
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.
Noel Noel Noel Noel
Born is the King of Israel.”

“That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in highest heaven,  and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:8-15)

A sign of the divine

“They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the east beyond them far:
And to the earth it gave great light
And so it continued both day and night.
Noel Noel Noel Noel
Born is the King of Israel.

And by the light of that same star
Three wise men came from the country far;
To seek for a King was their intent,
And to follow the star wherever it went.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.”

“The wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matt. 2:9-11)

The King has come

The newborn King came to be enthroned in the hearts of mankind. Many things in this world compete for your affections — busy schedules, the pursuit of comfort, an endless hope for gain, assurance and guarantee from harm. Many things can keep your focus off of Jesus.

Will you crown Jesus your King?”

The challenge

Enthrone Christ in your heart. Do not allow temporal and perishable things overtake a relationship with God.

What competes with the newborn King in your life? Share your comments below.

A King in Disguise

Why did Jesus come in such a humble manner? Why was it necessary for the divine to come to earth?

king

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An advent parable, A King in Disguise, written by Soren Kierkegaard (modified) gives us some insight:

“Once upon a time, there was a prince who was single and very eager to marry a lovely maiden for his future queen. Near his palace was a large city, and often he rode his carriage down to the city to take care of various chores for his father. One day, to reach a particular merchant, he had to go through a rather poor section. He happened to glance out of the window and right into the eyes of a beautiful maiden.

“He had occasion on the next few days to return to the section of the city–drawn as he was by the eyes of the maiden. And more than that, he had the good fortune once or twice actually to meet this young girl. Soon he began to feel that he was in love with her. But now he had a problem. How should he proceed to procure her hand?

“Of course, he could order her to the palace and there propose marriage. But even a prince would like to feel that the girl he marries wants to marry him. Or perhaps, somewhat more graciously, he could arrive at her door in his most resplendent uniform and, with a bow, ask her hand. But even a prince wants to marry for love.

“Again, he could masquerade as a peasant and try to gain her interest. After he proposed, he could pull off his ‘mask.’ Still, the masquerade would be ‘phony.’ He really could not manage it.

“Finally a real solution presented itself to his mind. He would give up his kingly role and move into her neighborhood. There he would take up work as, say, a carpenter. During his work in the day and during his time off in the evening, he would get acquainted with the people, begin to share their interests and concerns, begin to talk their language. And in due time, should fortune be with him, he would make her acquaintance in a natural way. And should she come to love him, as he had already come to love her, then he would ask for her hand.

“Over time, she did fall in love with the carpenter. She adored him. She believed in all of her heart that he was poor, simple, and common, and she loved him like that. And so, one day he proposed marriage, and she accepted. He still didn’t tell her he was a prince, a soon-to-be king. He simply told her to put on a beautiful dress, and on a particular day, he would come and pick her up, and then he would take her to the wedding. He would take care of all the details and surprise her.

“So she was there with her family and her friends, and an army of chariots and soldiers and banners and musicians – thousands upon thousands, showed up. They picked up this girl from the poor section of town, and they carried right through the palace gates – trumpets blaring, right down the aisle.

“Seated on the throne, she saw the prince, her soon-to-be husband. She got off of her chariot. She walked up to the prince and he told her, ‘I wanted you to love me not because I was going to be king, but I wanted you to love me simply for the sake of loving me. Then I could show you that I was the soon-coming king, and I would know that your love for me would always be true.’”

God did the same thing for us. He came in an unexpected way, a humble, simple, regular, normal way – as a regular guy, from a regular town, with a regular mom and a regular dad, living a regular life but being God. The world did not recognize him and rejected him. “He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.” (John 1:10-11)

They said, “We are waiting for a king.” Jesus says,

I am a king, and if you love me, I’ll take you to the palace, but love Me first.”

He loves you and He wants your love, but freely and voluntarily. He could have ordered you to love Him but is that love? He could have appeared to you in kingly glory. Who would not be awed by such splendor? He wanted to win your love without dazzling and overwhelming you with the magnificence of His divinity. Paul writes “…though he was by nature God, [He] did not consider being equal with God a thing to be clung to, but emptied himself, taking the nature of a slave, and being made like unto men. And appearing in the form of man he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even to death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).

The world says, “We will not marry a common, poor, simple Jesus. We are waiting for someone better.”

Then he rose from the dead. What a King! God meets you on your level that you might respond freely to His love.

Christmas is a great time to respond to His love. Will you give a wholehearted response to His love this Christmas season? Will you commit yourself to the King? Share your comments below.

Emanuel, God with Us

As we get into the holiday season, we naturally reflect on the birth of Christ. The next two weeks will focus on Emanuel, God with us.

emanuel

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From my own “Harmony of the Gospels,” here is a narrative of the coming of Christ from John, Luke, and Matthew.

“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” John 1:1-5

The Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us.'”

Joseph traveled to Bethlehem from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

Within a couple of years, some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” King Herod interviewed the wise men and they went on their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Why did Jesus come in such a humble manner? Why was it necessary for the divine to come to earth?

Next week I will unfold some answers to these compelling questions…