Beyond BethlehemWednesday, January 05, 2011
Two thousand years ago, on a night lit brightly by a heavenly star, a young mother gave birth to a Holy Child. In a humble manger in Bethlehem Love entered the world in human form. Angels announced it, shepherds welcomed it and wise men celebrated it. The long anticipated arrival of the Savior, whose birth had been foretold centuries before, had finally come. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). But was His arrival the final climax to centuries of anticipation? Was the work completed on that cold winter’s night? Though Jesus’ birth was the culmination of a miraculous and holy pregnancy, God’s plan didn’t end as Mary held Jesus in her arms for the first time. That moment was only the beginning.
As Christians, we celebrate Christmas because it is the beginning of God’s plan of salvation for us. Jesus Christ, God and Man, Father and Son, entered the world to save us from our sins. And in the years that followed His momentous birth, God walked with us and talked with us. He brought Light to a dark world as He taught the Truth of the scriptures. He healed the sick. He comforted the hurting. He fed the hungry and He ministered to the multitudes. He faced every challenge and temptation that we have ever or will ever experience. And through it all, He did not sin. He understands us, not only because He created us, but because He lived as one of us. But why would our Creator do this? Because He loves us. So great is His compassion that Christ lived a life on earth and then willingly went to the cross to die for us. He saved us from eternal separation from God and gave His life so we could be with Him forever. His ultimate sacrifice, 33 years beyond Bethlehem, is a gift of love and of life that should always be celebrated. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
So now, on these days following our celebrations of the birth of Christ let our joy increase! Each day, let us remember that Emmanuel, God with Us, came to earth and began a journey that is still continuing today. Let us celebrate the joy beyond Christmas…beyond Bethlehem. For Bethlehem was just the beginning.
Living for Him,