Don’t miss out on the reason for the season! It is Jesus.
Many people in and around the first Christmas missed out on it. How sad to be right there, and yet miss it. To have it smack-dab in your face, and yet you don’t see it.
This event had been prophesied. There are over 300 prophecies relating to Jesus’s first coming, to which a number of them are specifically about His birth and baby-hood. The scholars and religious leaders of that time should have been able to spot it, the fulfilled prophecy, but sadly most didn’t.
Scripture gives us a clear picture many times, about the ones who accepted Jesus, and the ones who rejected Him. One of those clear pictures is the 2 thieves on the crosses on either side of Jesus. One accepted Him, and one didn’t. Or in the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus, one accepted Him, (Lazarus) and one didn’t (the Rich man).
Even at the point of His birth here on earth, there are a couple of significant choices made. Some are not hopefully a lifetime rejection, but still they give us the illustration of the choice before us. Do we accept the free Gift God gave us, or do we reject Him
While it is pretty obvious within the Nativity story those that accepted Him, it is also very poignant to realize the ones who didn’t, or may not have, and the consequences of that choice.
Mary and Joseph obviously accepted Jesus. They were center and integral to the story. Their roles were chosen of God, and a role-model for us to follow. Just humble and regular people, but used of God to raise His Son. The entire course of their lives was altered by the acceptance of God’s Son and God’s plan for their lives. I don’t believe it was easy for a moment, but it was more than worth it!
Elizabeth and Zechariah, the parents of Jesus’s soon-to-be-born cousin, (John the Baptist) accepted the Savior, before He was even born. Elizabeth praises and worships the baby in Mary’s belly, and both Elizabeth and Zechariah recognize that their own miraculously born son was to be the prophet preparing the Way for the Lord, the baby in Mary’s belly. I suppose you could also include baby John himself, for he leaps within Elizabeth’s womb as soon as Mary walks through the door and greets them, and is filled with the Holy Spirit from then on out.
The Shepherds accepted Him. They were awestruck by the Angels’ message to them, and immediately came to worship the baby in the manger. They accepted His deity, and praised God for allowing them to be a part of His plan and the first to hear the announcement of the Birth of His Son. The Bible tells us that they spread these glad tidings wherever they went, and I’m sure, for the rest of their lives.
The Wise Men accepted and sought Jesus out. They chased after the Gift that God had given them. They brought gifts to the Gift Himself. They were careful to listen to God’s call in their lives and safeguard the Savior by listening to the dream God had given them not to tell the unbelieving king where He was.
Simeon and Anna were the two aged temple worshippers, who recognized, praised, and blessed the little Baby King. While their stories are short, and sometimes overlooked as part of the first Christmas story, they are so significant! They were both looking for, and immediately accepting of this long-promised Savior, and rejoiced to see His day.
Many more who would later hear the story of Jesus, accepted immediately that this was God’s Son, the Savior of the World. Immanuel. God With Us. But, in contrast, there are a few who show up in the story who either reject outright, or are ambivalent to, this Great Gift who came in the fullness of time, according to God’s plan.
One, although he remains unnamed, is the innkeeper. Obviously, he couldn’t help if there was really no room anymore at his inn, or house, and we assume he did offer the stable, but down through time, this has been a picture of “no room for Jesus” and a vivid illustration of people saying the same in their hearts. So, whomever this innkeeper, or house owner was, he has gone down through history, (wrongfully or rightfully!) as someone who had no room for the Savior.
This is one of those, read between the lines of scripture thoughts, but what of Mary and Joseph’s families? We are not told whether they accepted or rejected this new “Grandson” or nephew in the family. I would venture to say it was a mixed bag, with some believing and some not. I do ponder these things, and truly hope they accepted, but the silence of scripture concerns me. John mentions the 3 or 4 (depending on your interpretation of the sentence) women at the cross, and it is no doubt that Mary the mother of Jesus was there, and Mary’s sister. So at least we know that Mary’s sister was most likely a believer. But we also know that, even to this day, Mary has been the subject of much vicious gossip about the father of her child. Where did this start? I would guess from neighbors and possibly unbelieving family who rejected the Virgin birth of the Savior, even though it was clearly prophesied in Isaiah 7:14, among other scriptures.
An obvious rejecter was King Herod. Herod was so immediately jealous over just the mention of a new King, even though yet a baby, that whether it was a fulfilled prophecy or not, he was out to kill our Savior. Baby Jesus escaped, thanks to the Godly discernment of the Wise Men and via the two dreams of warning given, one to the wise men and one to Joseph. Herod dies shortly after, and Joseph receives another dream, that they can return from Egypt, but also that Herod’s son, Archelaus was now king in his father’s stead, and he is not much safer than his father. (chalk up another rejector!) So Joseph takes his family safely back to Nazareth instead of Bethlehem.
I’m going to lump the rest of these together in one category. This goes beyond the Nativity story, but throughout Jesus’s life here on earth, the Pharisees, and Religious Leaders, the ones who should have recognized who He was from the start, were, with a few exceptions, in the rejecters group. This is so sad, but also so revealing. Religion is not the answer to life’s deepest questions; Jesus is. Life-changing knowledge of God does not come through a religion. It comes through a relationship. They were too caught up in their own self-righteousness to accept the free gift of Salvation from one who could look them straight in the eye, and tell them “I Am”. How deep is their Hell after having met the Savior face to face, heard the Truth, and still rejected.
In conclusion, the list above is not concrete. Some may have accepted later, or my ponderings are off base. Reading between the lines is definitely not a recommended theological practice. But the bottom line is, there is a choice.
What will you do with Jesus? Is He the reason for your season? Or not. Is He the free Gift you accept? Or Reject? That is the choice that will go down forever in your eternity. But the choice can only be made in this lifetime, and the sooner the better, for tomorrow is not promised us. Is there room in your heart today for Jesus?
I have chosen to Receive and Thank God for His Unspeakable Gift! I hope you have too.
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