Imagine the scene in Bethlehem on that first Christmas: crowded city streets, no vacancy signs on every inn; a crude stable for a maternity ward; a young woman screaming out her labor; her husband counseling deep breaths. Then, "Push, Mary. Push! Just a little more. I see the head. Push, Mary, push." And then the sigh of relief and a baby's cry. Emmanuel—God with us. Angels singing in the night. Good news of great joy which shall be to all people. Unto us a child is born—the Savior, Christ the Lord. Shepherds getting the news and hurrying to Bethlehem. Something's up down in Bethlehem. And history will never be the same. Something big has happened here. Something wondrous.
We’ve heard it so many times, we’ve lost our sense of wonder at just what God did at Bethlehem.
God—who in humility (God, mind you)
would stoop so low as to visit us in person.
Visiting particular people like Mary and Joseph,
in a particular place like Bethlehem,
reminding us that He comes as well to visit particular persons
like you and me
in our own particular places too.
It is God who visits. God.
God—through virgin birth—
becoming flesh and dwelling among us—
not merely veiling his divinity with skin,
like Superman wears a business suit and glasses
and pretends to be Clark Kent.
But God actually becoming flesh and dwelling among us.
God Himself—God—in the Person of Jesus Christ—
sharing our passions,
bearing our burdens,
tempted in all ways just like us, yet without sin,
and obedient even unto death on a cross,
where He who knew no sin
became sin for us,
so that we might become the righteousness of God.
And when I consider that in His love and grace He would reach out to even me—a first-class sinner—well, such love leaves me with eyes as big as saucers and mouth wide open. I can't understand it. I can't stand up to it. I am compelled to fall on my face in worship. And I am filled with wonder. How could the holy God of the universe care so much for a sinful speck on the earth like me? Why would He come among us, tap me on the shoulder, give me eternal life, and call me to follow Him? Why me? It's nothing less than a wonder.
When my nephew Matthew was five years old, his family made their way from Nebraska to meet the rest of us for a family Thanksgiving at my mother’s house in Branson. His parents said that every time he saw Christmas lights—every time—he would get all excited, point to them with great enthusiasm and say, "Look at that! Hey guys, look at that!" Didn't matter if a house was lit up like the lawn of Hot Springs National Park or if it was just a string of lights on a window sill—"Look at that! Hey guys, look at that!" He was one kid filled with wonder.
Sounds like the message of angels and shepherds one night near Bethlehem, doesn't it? Filled with wonder and amazed at the love of God, about all they could say was, "Look at that! Hey guys, look at that!" I beseech you to look … and be filled with wonder.