Welcome, dear readers, and Merry Christmas!
Being a writer and an imaginative person, I will occasionally try to picture scenes from the Bible or imagine myself in them. Sometimes the exercise reveals new aspects of the scene that I never considered before. Last year, during the Christmas Eve service at my church, I began imagining what it would have been like to approach Mary after the birth of baby Jesus, like the shepherds near Bethlehem did.
After the angels declared Jesus’ birth to the shepherds, “they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger” (Luke 2:16, ESV). Artwork, films, and nativity scenes usually depict the shepherds beside the manger, kneeling in reverence before the infant Messiah.
But what then, I wonder? Did they watch Mary carefully lift and cradle her son—knowing, all the while, that He was truly the Son of God? Perhaps she smiled down at Him, then looked up at them, beaming, and invited them to draw closer to look at their Savior. Perhaps she offered to let them hold Him themselves, with all the pride of a new mother wanting to share her perfect little one with others.
Of course, I’m taking creative license here. I don’t claim to know how the scene played out, beyond the details recorded in the Bible. But I think the images of shepherds and wise men reverently bowing before the manger, always at a distance, is only part of the picture. While we are right to bow before Him, Jesus didn’t come to Earth so He could hold us at arm’s length. He came to get as close as we let Him. He came to enter into the dirt and mess of us and our daily lives. He came to turn life-as-we-know-it on its head, with an undeniably hands-on approach.
On that Christmas Eve last year, I suddenly had a new sense of the coming of Christ as a gift—not just because His coming fills our need to be saved from our sins, but because we get Him. Do you understand that Christmas is about God handing His Son to us, like a parent letting you hold their newborn child? Anyone who has ever been allowed to hold someone else’s child understands that you have just been handed the most precious thing that parent has to offer.
As I imagined this scene, at first, I saw Mary inviting me to hold the newborn King for myself. And then I saw beyond her to the One who was truly offering me His Son. It was as if God said to me, “Take Him. Hold Him. Embrace Him. Don’t just kneel in the doorway. I gave you my only Son. Receive Him. Receive Me, in all My fullness.”
One of the beautiful reminders of Christmas, and one that I’m treasuring this year, is the understanding that God has given me Himself—not just in the manger, but every single day that I live. Those who have given themselves to God discover that God has given, and continues to give, all of Himself to them, without reservation.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given” (Isaiah 9:6). To us. To you. Reach out and receive Him. Hold Him. Embrace Him. As C.S. Lewis wrote in The Horse and His Boy, “‘Do not dare not to dare.'”
Thanks for reading, everyone. I wish you the Merriest of Christmases!
If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Savior, or if you have questions about this blog post (or any of the other devotional posts), please feel free to comment below or send me a private message through my author page on Facebook. I would love to speak with you.