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Jesus Has a Gift For You

Well, it's Christmas Eve here again, and while it might not feel like Christmas, given the grass, mud, springlike weather, and sunshine, it is Christmas Eve all the same. 

We hope you're looking forward to a great few days with family and friends, celebrating the season of giving. 

We especially want you to remember the real gift of Christmas. The Baby Jesus. 

If you are attending any sort of religious service over the next few days, you are probably going to hear readings from Luke Chapter 2. This is the chapter in the Bible that tells the story of how Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem for the census, and ended up in a stable because there was no room for them in the inn. I'm sure you've heard that part of the story, and wondered what it would've been like to be in a crowded city, about to have a baby, and having no place to go. 

When I went to Rapid City, South Dakota, on vacation last fall, I didn't realize I was arriving in the city the night before the annual Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup. I had gone with the intention of seeing Mount Rushmore, and going on a trail ride through the Black Hills, and had no idea this buffalo thing was going on. Apparently it's a big deal, because about 40,000 people had showed up to watch this annual event, and every hotel in Rapid City (regular population of about 70,000) was full. It gives you a weird feeling that you should've probably booked ahead on Expedia before you showed up. Since Expedia was a few thousand years away in Bible times, we can guarantee that Mary and Joseph didn't have that option. 

So back to Luke 2. The part of the chapter I'd like to point out as as follows: 

 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is[e]Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a [f]manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men [g]with whom He is pleased.”

15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the [h]manger. 17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.

In Bible Times, the shepherds weren't popular people. They would spend most of their time out with the animals, and would be shunned if they did come into town. They were poor, lower class people. Despite the fact that most nativity sets come with an old, white bearded shepherd, most commentators believe shepherds were actually young, and quite possibly, often girls. 

Regardless of who they were, they were average, every day, lower class people. And God chose to tell them about His Son's arrival first. Imagine being those shepherds, out in the fields at night, possibly feeling a little scared anyway if you're a young girl, out there in the dark, responsible for a huge flock of sheep, then having angels appear in the sky. The little cherubs we see at Valentine's day are a far cry from what a real angel probably looks like. Angels are warriors, so they likely look pretty scary. Have you noticed how, in the Bible, every time an angel appears, the first thing they say is something to the effect of 'Fear not!'. There's a reason for that. 

I like how the shepherds didn't waste any time after the angel left, and went immediately to Bethlehem. I have been told before that they left the sheep in the fields, but that seems untypical of a shepherd who is responsible for a flock of sheep. The Bible doesn't expressly say what happened with the sheep. Maybe the shepherds brought them all with them, which would've been interesting in the middle of the night. Or maybe they did leave them. We don't know. What we do know, is that those shepherds realized something really special had happened in Bethlehem.

I have heard it said that perhaps these shepherds were the ones responsible for raising the perfect, sacrificial lambs that could be used as payment for sin as per Jewish law. With Jesus now present on earth, the days of sacrificing a lamb to pay for sins were seriously numbered. 

Regardless, the story of the shepherds reminds us that Jesus came down to be accessible to anyone who wanted to reach out to him. Jesus came for the poor shepherds, and also for the rich Wise Men who were probably just now seeing the star and trying to decide what it meant. Jesus is 100% God, but in this time period, He was also 100% man, sent to officially pay for our sins in a death on a cross about 33 years later. Even though Jesus is technically back in heaven, His Spirit is here, with us. If you've been thinking of reaching out to Jesus, now is the time. 

Jesus is coming back. We don't know when, but we know it's soon. 

 

1 Thessalonians 5:2New American Standard Bible (NASB)

For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord [a]will come just like a thief in the night.

Maybe Jesus is coming this Christmas? The Bible clearly states that we will not know the day or the hour, but we need to be ready. Are you ready? Is Jesus your Lord and Savior. Have you accepted Him as the perfect sacrifice for your sins? 

The gift Jesus is offering you is just like the other gifts you probably have waiting for you tomorrow. It's wrapped. You don't get it unless you reach out and open it. 

Jesus wants you to open His gift. Will you? 

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