The story of Jesus’ birth has continued to shape and transform the world for more than 2,000 years. As we celebrate the birth of Christ, it’s essential to look deeper at the fascinating proclamations that lay at the foundation of the monumental story – statements that give a lens into the complex and intriguing characters at the center of history’s most revered story.
Exploring these proclamations gives us greater insight not only into Jesus’ birth but also into faith, truth and our own personal relationships with the Almighty. Here are just five statements surrounding Jesus’ birth that should cause us to pause and reflect:
1. “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”
One of the most fascinating interactions in the Bible unfolds in Luke 1 when the angel Gabriel goes to Galilee to tell Mary that she would soon be with child. After Gabriel reveals to Mary that she is “highly favored” and that God is with her, we learn that she was “greatly troubled” by his words and his very appearance before her.
But after the angel tells her not to be afraid and explains that she will become pregnant with Jesus, God’s only son – and after Mary learns how this is possible despite her virginity – something intriguing happens: Mary accepts what God has planned for her.
In Luke 1:38 (NIV), she bolds proclaims, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” This lesson of obedience is remarkable, especially considering Mary’s life circumstances – and it serves as a timeless lesson to us all.
2. “For no word from God will ever fail.”
We learn an important lesson of faith from Gabriel as well. While the angel is explaining to Mary how she will become pregnant, he reveals that her relative, Elizabeth, is also going to have a child (John the Baptist) – a miraculous birth in its own right due to Elizabeth’s advancement in age and her inability to conceive.
Gabriel proclaims, “For no word from God will ever fail” (Luke 1:37, NIV). In our current era of chaos and uncertainty, this message about faith and trust in God is paramount. It’s a brief proclamation, but one that should give us all a great deal to ponder, especially as we celebrate the greatest “word” from God: Christ Jesus’ birth.
3) “Let’s go to Bethlehem!”
The shepherds are a staple in the nativity story, but when we more deeply ponder their prevalence in the story, it becomes increasingly remarkable. Consider that God could have sent angels to appear and reveal Jesus’ birth to the most powerful of kings, yet he chose the shepherds.
And sure, there are different ideas surrounding just how lowly the shepherds truly were on the social rung, but the point still remains: God could have chosen the mighty and powerful, yet he selected the shepherds.
After the angel appeared to tell them that “in the town of David a Savior has been born” and told them of the signs they would see, they were were blown away (let’s not forget that a heavenly host appeared before them as well to rejoice over Jesus’ birth – an event that would rock anyone to his or her core).
“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about,” the shepherds said after the angels departed (Luke 2:15, NIV). They were clearly moved by what they heard and observed. In the end, their presence in the story is evidence that God loves everyone, regardless of social stature – and their obedient reaction serves as a reminder that God can use each of us, so long as we’re open to Him doing so.
4) “Joseph...do not be afraid.”
Joseph is one of the most fascinating people involved in the nativity narrative. Consider this: he was engaged to Mary, a woman who mysteriously became pregnant and yet he was still kind and collected enough to consider quietly divorcing her so as to not attract negative attention.
Clearly, Joseph was a good man, but we learn even more about his character when an angel appears in a dream to tell Joseph what’s really going on with Mary.
“Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit,” the angel said. “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21, NIV).
Joseph could have chosen to ignore the dream, but he woke up and listened to what the angel told him, taking Mary home to be his wife and the rest is, well, history. Talk about a stunning lesson in trust and obedience. Considering the circumstances, it’s pretty incredible.
5) “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?”
The magi (also known as the “wisemen” or “three kings”) are the most elusive figures in the nativity narrative. Not only do we not know their names nor how many there were, but there’s a debate over their social titles. Plainly stated: we don’t know much about them.
That said, we do know that they were intent on worshipping a young Jesus, and that they had been following a star in the sky that was leading them to Christ’s location – a celestial GPS, if you will. When they arrived in Jerusalem they proclaimed, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2, NIV).
Well, we know King Herod wasn’t too excited that a “king” had been born. He sent the Magi to Bethlehem and told them to search for Jesus so that he, too, could worship Christ. In reality, he was planning to try and stop Jesus, which the magi learned in a dream when they were warned not to return to Herod; they complied and went back to their home country.
Again, a pretty remarkable story about obedience, but beyond that it shows that God typically uses people’s actions, whims and movements to accomplish His purposes. Despite being mysterious, the magi’s place in the nativity story is remarkable and has much to teach us.
So, there you have it – just five proclamations that show us the complexity, timelessness – and brilliance of this real-life story. Merry Christmas!