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Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas: The People

If asked to recall the “people in the Christmas Story” you might find the image of the Nativity popping into your mind. Or, if you are like most of us, you will need to check the ceramic /porcelain figures put out on your coffee table, or displayed at the front of your Sunday School room to be sure you didn’t miss someone! Even so, it is highly likely you will miss someone if you rely on the Nativity display alone! This familiar scene is so much like the posed family photo we have all come to know so well at holiday seasons. You know the kind, someone is missing from the group because he slipped off to the restroom but there were so many people in the house that no one missed Uncle Jake until the photo was emailed to everyone a week later! The Nativity scene is a very modern image, actually. In today’s photo fixing/touching up world of computerized family photos, one can add to the photo those who were not really there until months later! Uh, that would be the Magi who were a bit late for the manger party, but did make the First Christmas on December 25 (I’ll get back to that a bit later.). Let’s take a look at the cast of characters the Lord God had hand-picked for this Christmas drama, a true story.

Those playing an important role but not in the photo include the following:

Isaiah, who had been dead for hundreds of years before Jesus was born, can be excused from the photo shoot, of course, but Isaiah should be remembered when reviewing the story because his role was an impressive one, indeed. Maybe we could put his face in one of the cloud-like hazes up in the corner of the photo? Okay, so what did he do? He had a job I would not have wanted, but I am so glad that he was willing to be sent to give the words God had for the people. He prepared them to readjust their thinking about the entrance of the Messiah to planet earth. One mention probably caused some raised eyebrows, for sure.

Isaiah Chapter 7, verse 14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

Uh, well, they’d never seen that before, so maybe there will be something really special about this boy. Or, equally as likely, they figured Isaiah had missed part of the communication scripted for him. How could such a thing happen! On the other hand, Emanuel means “God with us,” so even the name draws our attention to God’s plan. Next, Isaiah gave a bit more detail. Okay, so the Messiah will not just show up on the scene as a full-grown man, and take charge of things. The Messiah will grow up from a child, but he will be a prince, then, since he is going to sit on the throne of King David. Yes, Isaiah’s prophetic words began to sound really good to the people,

Chapter 9 verses 6-7: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.”

Now, that was exactly what the people were waiting for! So why would I not like to be the one delivering such a message of hope in their time of trouble? Well, because the fulfillment of those words did not come for more than four hundred years. Those who doubted Isaiah, and, probably made fun of him about the virgin birth thing, never lived to see that what Isaiah had said was exactly what happened! Sure, Isaiah knew the truth in his heart, but he would be on the other side of Heaven before he would be able to release that contented smile of knowing he had not mistaken what the Lord had asked him to say.

Elizabeth and Zechariah should be in the picture, perhaps over to the left of Mary and Joseph.  That way, their six-month-old John could be captured looking down at the Baby Jesus, from the arms of his own elderly father, a respected priest. Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin, was the very first of her relatives to know about the pregnancy.  It was Cousin Elizabeth who had encouraged Mary those first three months, while waiting for her own delivery date to come. Besides, the Holy Scriptures said that John would be the one charged with letting people know that Jesus would come to save them from their sins. Surely, Little John should be in the Christmas family photo.

Now, as to those who are in the Nativity portrait…

****Christmas: The People, Conclusion… Next Post

 

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