(This is a repost of an entry from last Christmas. I really liked it–I hope you do, too.)
Can you see him?
The baby named Jesus is just a few hours old. Laying in a feeding trough doesn’t sound comfortable, but his mother has made it so by wrapping him tightly and cushioning the hard wood with blankets and hay.
His eyelids open ever so slightly as he looks slowly from side to side. The accommodations may not be the best, but babies have no concern for such things. Jesus, the creator of all things, is just a newborn now without the ability to consciously know the splendor of this night.
You see him move slightly as though he is trying to wrestle himself free from the swaddling clothes. He is unsuccessful, except for a tiny hand that struggles loose and finds his face. It is such a tender moment as he caresses his cheek with his hand ever so softly.
A tear forms in the corner of your eye because you know that tender cheek will one day be beaten and that precious hand will be pierced.
Can you see Mary?
The exhaustion of the trip and the agony of childbirth can’t keep her away from her baby. She is laying on blankets near the manger, propped up on pillows and packs that they brought with them from Nazareth.
She senses Jesus moving around and raises up to take a look at her precious baby. For nine months she carried him in her womb wondering what the Son of God would look like. Now she knows; he is the most beautiful baby she has ever seen.
Gazing at her child, the beginning of this improbable journey seems so long ago. The visit from the angel, the time spent with Elizabeth, the questions from her family and Joseph, the hurtful gossip and scornful looks from the townsfolk.
She had a feeling that the majority of those who knew and loved her didn’t really believe her, but she knew that at least she had Joseph. That wasn’t the case at first, not until he had his own visit from a heavenly messenger. Her love for Joseph exploded when he ran to her and begged forgiveness for not believing that she was to be the mother of the Messiah.
As she looks at Jesus, she knows exactly who he is, yet does not fully know what all being the Son of the Highest will entail. Anxiety mixed with joy fills her heart as she ponders what is to come.
Can you see Joseph?
Becoming betrothed to Mary was such a thrill, but the thrill faded when he found out she was pregnant. The fanciful story she told of a conversation with an angel couldn’t keep him from thinking the worst of Mary. His family and friends advised him to make a spectacle of parting ways with her; they didn’t understand why he would want to do it so quietly.
Then he had a dream; an amazing dream with an angel confirming what Mary had tried to convince him of for weeks. He woke up and ran to her, sharing both laughter and tears as he told of his encounter.
Joseph’s family didn’t understand and most of his friends abandoned him. He didn’t care; the one who will save his people from their sins was coming and he was blessed to be called upon to play a role in the greatest event in the history of the world–the entrance of the Messiah!
Now he sits near the manger on the opposite side of Mary and sees her raise her head. She going to be a good mother, he is sure of it. It’s his own parenting skills that he is most concerned with. How does a carpenter raise the Savior of the world? He chuckles within himself at the thought. That God often chooses to use unexpected people to accomplish His purposes is something that he has known since childhood, but this is just too much. Why him?
He hasn’t been able to take his eyes off of Jesus since the delivery, even though his eyelids have become heavy as the night grows older. He wants Mary to rest and his baby to be safe, so he stays awake. Wondering.
The noise from outside causes him to jump to his feet. He looks out and sees a group of men walking excitedly his way.
Can you see the shepherds?
They look somewhat deranged with wide eyes and quick steps. Since arriving in the town they have gone from home to home and inn to inn asking everyone in sight where they might find a woman who had given birth that day.
They tell no one why they are looking for the baby. It’s doubtful that anyone would believe them anyway. An angel telling a bunch of smelly shepherds that the Christ has been born. Not to mention the light and the rest of the angels. Who would–who could–believe such things would happen to them?
As soon as the angels had disappeared from sight, they began running toward the town. The sheep would have to take care of themselves, at least for tonight. Once in Bethlehem and gasping for breath, they began their inquiries. A few doors were slammed in their faces and few curses were hurled their way. But there were some who were helpful.
Finally, they were pointed in the direction of the stable that was built into a cave where a young couple had gone to spend the night. The woman, they were told, was close to giving birth.
With great joy they ran toward the stable, but slowed up as they approached the door. What would they say? How would they explain what they had seen? Who would believe a bunch of disheveled shepherds?
As they approach the door there is movement from inside.
Can you see it?
Joseph pushes the door and allows it to fling open. He sees dirty men in dirty clothes heading toward him, toward his wife, toward their baby.
“What do you want?,” he says forcefully. The question causes the shepherds to stop just a few feet away.
“W-w-well,” one of the bewildered guests stammers, “something has happened that is going to sound unbelievable.” They obviously have no clue what Joseph and Mary have already experienced.
“Go on,” Joseph demands.
In a rush of words, the shepherd tells him of the angel’s pronouncement that they would find the Christ-child wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger. He tells Joseph about the whole host of angels and how he and his fellow shepherds had run to Bethlehem in search of the baby.
Joseph lowers his head. The chuckle that he has been suppressing now escapes in laughter. Telling the shepherds to wait outside a moment, he heads back in to tell Mary about their visitors.
Her eyes widen in amazement at what Joseph says and she kneels before her baby with a renewed sense of wonder. She tells Joseph that the shepherds can come in and see.
Joseph opens the door and beckons for the motley crew to enter. They shuffle quietly to the side of the manger and kneel down in silence. Joseph goes to the side of his wife and, in whispers, they share their story with the shepherds.
The shepherds listen intently. They ask a few questions and give more details of how the angel appeared so suddenly.
Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds sitting near Jesus, speaking in hushed tones about this blessed event. But mostly, they just stare in awe at Jesus. The Christ. The Messiah. The Savior.
Can you see Him?