“And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Luke 2:6-7 ESV
What incredible and warm memories I have of my children being born. Our oldest took two days of labor to make his grand entrance. Forty-eight hours of contractions that ended in an emergency C section. I can recall the buzz of activity and urgency when they made the decision to do surgery. They told me to wait for them in the room as they took my wife into the OR. I did just that, and that wait seemed like an eternity. Then the fret when they discovered they forgot about me and came hurrying down the hallway yelling, “Mr. Bennett, Mr. Bennett, hurry. We need you in the operating room.” Our son’s first cry causing both the new mom and dad realizing in that moment they were a mom and a dad. I have a son! That son, who is now in his 30’s, a little over two years ago experienced the same feeling at the birth of his daughter. He did not have quite the drama I did with him, but we both have a special memory about his day with his daughter. Living three hours away, I talked with him by phone at the hospital. As I prayed over him, we both wept at the joy of him and his wife becoming a mom and a dad. A baby was about to be born who will be loved, cherished, and protected. The time came and my little granddaughter said hello.
When a baby comes into the world, the focus is on the baby. Not too many people were asking how Dad was doing when my three beautiful kids were born. They wanted to know about the baby, how big, how long, how much hair, and how Mom was doing, too. Nobody asked about me, and that is ok. When the baby comes, the attention is on the baby.
In the nativity scene that is exactly what you see. All attention is on the baby. Even though scholars have opinions as to when the Wise men were there, the Nativity Scene puts everyone in the Christmas story right there by the baby. Their gaze is focused on Jesus as it should be. Even the cows, camels, and donkeys are looking at baby Jesus when you see figurines, paintings, and pictures.
This Christmas, where and to whom is your focus on? If you are like me, as much as I want it to be on Jesus, I find myself distracted or maybe even absent at times. I sat in an incredible teaching called, “Christmas through the Eyes of Worship.” My heart ached at the many times I have missed to focus on Jesus and simply worship Him. AB, why can’t you be like those shepherds or wise men who came and bowed down? Why can’t I just put the distractions aside, focus, enjoy and bask in the presence of the King?
Maybe your life has been busy this Christmas, occupied with the post Covid and political drama. Instead of your place by the savior of the world, you are trying to manage paying bills, keeping your house healthy, and buying that special gift for that special someone. Maybe loss has swept you away with grief, discouragement, loneliness and you find yourself isolated. It could be that this Christmas things have not worked out as well as you wanted them to, and the disappointment has taken away your joy.
I guess what I am asking is, are we in a place where our focus is on Jesus? Like the Wise Men opening their treasures, or Mary pondering in her heart all of the incredible things she had heard about her baby. Like the shepherds who heard the angels and went to see Jesus. As they gathered there to worship Jesus, do we this Christmas season do the same?
Of course, our focus is not the journey to a manger holding a baby. Our focus is on the journey from that manger. Because of what this baby grew to accomplish, our worship has a perspective that is not like that of those at the nativity. They stood there in awe and worship anticipating what this little Jesus would grow up to do. Unlike those at the nativity, we know exactly what Jesus accomplished, which fuels our awe and worship today.
We, with our lives, do not seek out a baby born and placed in a manger. We have not made long journeys to try to find Jesus. It was Jesus who made the journey to find us. This baby Jesus, Immanuel, God with Us, would become a man who took our infirmities, our sorrows and pain upon Himself on the cross He died upon. This innocent, spotless lamb as scripture declares, suffered the wrath of God as the sin of the world was heaped upon Him. The sight of this causing God the Father to turn away from His beloved Son. The baby Jesus, who was worshiped at the manger, was now abandoned to die and pay the penalty for our sin on a hill called Golgotha. The blood that Jesus shed would be in place of ours. A great exchange. His life to give us new life in Him.
The journey did not end on a cruel cross. To die was only the beginning. Forgiveness, death, and sickness could not be defeated if Jesus did not conquer the grave that tried to hold Him. On the third day He rose again. Alive, our risen Savior stole the keys of death and destroyed the works of the Devil. Death no longer wins. Hope is given.
Our lives are not a journey to Jesus. Our lives point to Jesus’ journey to us. Finding us at our worst and loving and accepting us there. Bringing us out of our darkness and into His light. Making us new on the inside with His love and Holy Word. Giving us new beginnings.
Ahh, there He is! I see Him now. I do not have to make the trip to Him. He has already made His way to me, to you. In the middle of our clutter, our disappointment, our loneliness, and setbacks. The King has found us, saved us and is coming again for us. You have taken the time to read this devotion that points to Him, so why not take just a little more time to focus on Jesus. Take a breath, whisper a worshipful prayer, and focus on the baby who grew to become the Savior of the World.