The sun rises effortlessly to greet this cloudy morning. Some sun is predicted on this day, three days before Christmas. Now that December 21st has come, days should stay brighter a little longer. The times of long nights begin to cease. As in the birth of Christ, who was born to dispel darkness through His held Light.
Love, both given and received, is many. The beautiful lights on the Christmas tree, candles burning, and a few soft lightings dispersed by carefully crafted lamps warm our homes as we wait in anticipation for His birth. With the busyness often apparent during this time of the year, we stop at Christmas morn. On Christmas morning, even with the tearing and shuffling of gift wrap, there’s peace. At this moment, life blossoms with appreciation, laughter, hugs, kisses, and much gratitude. Our gifts from family and close friends resemble things we longed for and need. Just like the ultimate gift on this day. This Gift of Christ.
We then turn to the New Year to January as we mark, reflect, and plan. We write down desired outcomes, reflect on the last year or two, and plan. Yes, we plan. Under the gray and cold skies of January evenings, the light within our homes guides us toward our personal positions of the New Year. As we mark, reflect, and plan, we move back to daily doings such as work and family responsibilities. Yet, we must never forget the magnificence of Christmas. The Gift of Christ to the world. The one who is ever-present in our homes preparing us for His optimum home of everlasting goodness, grace, and mercy.
This Gift shared with three wise men (Matthew 2:1-2) through the direction of a star. These wise men were a particular class of priests from Persia. It is believed that this group existed during the time of Daniel, who some infer may have taught the wise men about our God (Daniel 2:24). We also know this comes through in other areas of the Old Testament (for e.g., the pagan prophet Balaam’s (who resided in Persia) prophecy, mentioned in Numbers 24:17-19. I briefly discuss this here, because we know that many of the people remained in Babylon after the exile and did not immediately return to Jerusalem. Thus, increasing a Messianic influence based on some intermarriage with those in the east.
News of our Savior’s birth was also shared with shepherds watching over their flocks at night (Luke 2:8). These two groups (wise men and shepherds), as Types and representations of Jesus Christ our High Priest (Hebrews 2:17; 3:1, 4:14; 5:10, 6:20; 7:11-8:2; 10:12), and the Good Shepherd (John 10:10-16), a Type displaying beautiful collections of the quality, function, and dedication of this baby born in a manger. God’s way of preparing them and us for what was to come. In his description of the work of a shepherd, Jacob while speaking to Laban shared about the duty of a shepherd “What was torn by wild beasts I did not bring to you. I bore the loss of it myself. From my hand you required it, whether stolen by day or stolen by night” (Genesis 31:39). So much richness in the entire Bible! I am often overwhelmed when engaged in deep discovery.
Yes, the work and duties of the shepherd is to protect and keep safe all sheep in his care, such as the work of the shepherds in the east who carefully guarded their flocks at night. Just as Jacob’s remark to Laban, noted above. The angel sent by God (Luke 2:9-13), came to tell the shepherds the good news, to tell us what was to come. A delivery of news given in this way so that the shepherds truly understood who He was, based on the extent of their daily and nightly duties. His duty–to protect His flock! This as one responsibility of the Good Shepherd born on Christmas.
The Old Testament depicts many shepherds. Although most fell short, they still prepared us for Our Perfect Shepherd, we celebrate each Christmas Day.
Revelations 7:16-17 tells us:
They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them,
nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
The precious baby in the manger was born to do all this and more! I yearn to know more of Him, about Him, as this eager student of His priesthood. I am thankful He watches over me. In the love I share with family and friends, I am free to speak of Him and share His love through simple gifts of this Christmas season. In my case, it is safe to speak of Him to friends and acquaintances who do not know of Him too. And, to share with those who know a baby was born in a manger, but who do not know Him as High Priest and the ultimate Shepherd watching over His flock by night and by day—yes, also watching over those who don’t know Him. In this, His love for us, we all share. In this, the unchangeable meaning of Christmas! This carefully planned representation of God’s beautiful Gift, as only can be illuminated in my heart.
I’ll see you in January!