This is really a Christmas article that I just wrote; but I felt like sharing it with all of my readers. I know its a little early, but I hope that you all enjoy it.
To Sis. Kinney: Feel free to print this in the Digest if you like.
Love to you all.
Close your eyes and imagine a dark, cool night in the tiny town of Bethlehem.
Imagine a dark, smelly stable, a cave, really; filled with animals. Imagine the strong smell of animal sweat and droppings, mixing with the sweet scent of fresh hay.
If you let your mind see, you will find in that stable a young woman and her husband, tired from a long journey. The woman is pregnant, ready to deliver, and her husband is anxious and worried about their lodgings.
But they cannot stop the inevitable. The baby will be born, HERE, among the most humble of beasts.
Imagine the hillsides around Bethlehem. The night is cool, and the shepherds are huddled among their flocks, watching over them and stealing a few moments of sleep here and there. It is just like any other night in Bethlehem. ALMOST.
Suddenly, radiance fills the midnight sky! The shepherds rouse from their slumber, awakened by the brightest of lights! They stare in fear and awe at the sky, mouths dropping open in astonishment! Imagine a light, brighter than anything you have ever seen, and celestial beings all around you! Imagine the glory and the presence of God as the angels spoke the good news.
Can you see it? Can you feel it? The shepherds did. They were frightened, but the angels said, “Fear not, we bring you tidings of great joy!” They told the men of a baby, born in a humble stable. They said, “He is Christ the Lord.”
They told the shepherds where to find the baby and then disappeared into the heavens. And the shepherds hurried to find the baby, the Savior, lying in a manger.
Imagine how they must have felt, as they came into that tiny stable, and saw the Messiah lying in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes. Picture that scene in your mind for a moment. A tiny baby, holding the salvation of the world in his hands. The shepherds worshipped Him and then went their way, telling everyone of what they had seen and heard!
Oh, what a night! What a miracle! The Messiah of the world, the One spoken of in many prophecies, born to a young woman in a smelly stable.
Unbelievable, you may say. And yes, to our human minds, it is.
But IMAGINE it…let your heart see what the truth is!
Around the same time of the baby’s birth, some wise men arrived in Jerusalem. They went to King Herod and asked him where the newborn King of the Jews was. “We have seen His star as it arose and have come to worship Him, “ they said. Herod told the wise men to go to Bethlehem and find the baby. “Worship Him and then come tell me where to find Him, so that I may worship Him as well.”
Imagine the wise men, as they followed His star. Imagine their joy as it stopped over the place where the baby was! They worshipped Him there, bringing Him gifts of gold, myrrh and frankincense. And they basked in the presence of the King.
The wise men were warned in dreams to return home by a different route because Herod wanted to kill the baby Jesus. Mary and Joseph were also warned in dreams and fled to Egypt with the Messiah, and His life was spared.
Imagine how that small boy grew. He watched Joseph build and became a carpenter. Imagine how His mother loved Him and how His father taught Him. He was like any other boy. ALMOST.
Then one day, when He was grown, He turned water into wine at a wedding feast. From that moment forth, He was no ordinary man. He traveled and preached to the people. He taught in the synagogue. He had followers that believed that He truly was the Messiah.
Imagine Him, now, healing the sick and raising the dead. The people had never witnessed such acts, and were in awe! His following grew, as did the number of His enemies.
Imagine Him, sitting at the Last Supper. Breaking bread with His disciples, He told them that one of them would betray Him. Imagine Judas, dipping his bread in the same bowl as Jesus, and then leaving the gathering to betray his Master.
Let your heart see Jesus, in agonizing prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. His sweat appeared to be great drops of blood as He prayed for God to let this cup pass from Him. And then He said, “Not my will, but Thine be done.”
Then Judas and the soldiers came, and Judas betrayed Him with a kiss. The soldiers led Him away to be tried, and ultimately, crucified.
Imagine, if you can, Him being beaten and spit upon. The cat ‘o nine tails tearing the skin from His back, and the crown of thorns being thrust upon His head.
Oh, what pain, what agony, what humiliation! But that was what He was born for; to humble Himself and take on the sins of the whole world.
From humble stable to humbling cross, the King of Kings went. He stumbled up the path to Golgotha, carrying the heavy cross on His bleeding shoulder. His mother and brothers and disciples followed, weeping at His pain.
Imagine the nails, piercing the tender flesh of His hands. Imagine them being pounded into His feet.
Too much, you say? We don’t like to imagine this part. We don’t want our hearts to see the tiny baby, grown into a strong man, being beaten and crucified. But that was His purpose. His only reason for putting on flesh was to die. He didn’t have to do it.
But now, imagine His love; His unending, undying love for all of mankind. It reached out, even from Calvary as He said, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing!”
Imagine now, how His arms, stretched out on that cross, enfolded the whole world. Imagine how His feet, now nailed to that tree, trekked across the countryside, taking Him from town to town, so that He was able to preach of love and forgiveness. Imagine how His hands, now suspended by cruel nails, reached out to touch the leper and the prostitute, bring healing and forgiveness.
Oh, what amazing love He had for us, for all of humanity! And yet, we hung Him on that tree. We took that innocent, marvelous baby, now an innocent and loving Man, and claimed His life. We took what was NOT ours to take, and in return, He took what was NOT His. He took our sins. He took our filthy lives and extended to us mercy that was undeserved.
Imagine Him, in all of His glory. Imagine Him in all of His wonder. Imagine Him and His unbelievable mercy, that He now holds out to us.
This Christmas, as we celebrate His birth, let us also celebrate His unending love toward us. And as we gather with our friends and families this year, let us imagine our lives, filled with Christ.