Twinkling lights are sure to catch our eye at this time of year. We’re attracted by their shimmer through our neighborhoods and homes.
I especially enjoy waking up in the morning before dawn and clicking on my Christmas tree lights. Sitting in the dark with just the glow from the tree is the best part of my day.
Light. We’re drawn to light.
Jesus referred to himself as the light of the world. Yet Isaiah 53:2 tells us that, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him”.
The light of the world, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords didn’t enter this world with majestic brilliance. There wasn’t any pomp and circumstance, fanfare, no castle, no royal clothes, no trumpets sounding or a parade to usher in his arrival.
He wasn’t draped in purple but in simple swaddling cloths. He didn’t have a cradle just an animal’s trough as a bed.
Surrounded by the smells and sounds of animals and with the love of his parents–a carpenter and young peasant girl–he came quietly, modestly into our world.
Today whenever there is news out of England of a royal birth, the airways, the internet, the media explodes with the light of the announcement.
The only spectacular light that shone the night Jesus was born was around the shepherds. An angel brought the shepherds the birth announcement surrounded with the glory of God.
Then the sky resounded with shouts of praise from a multitude of angels, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2: 14
The shepherds–who were considered the lowly of the low–they were the ones standing in the company of angels and surrounded with God’s glowing presence.
Did you ever notice that God does things completely the opposite of the way we would expect?
Consider King David whom Jesus descended from–he was just a young shepherd boy tending the sheep when Samuel arrived at his father Jesse’s house to anoint the next king. Samuel thought for sure it would be David’s older brother, Eliab but the Lord told Samuel, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” All of David’s older, stronger brothers weren’t picked by God. David the youngest, smallest less obvious son was anointed by Samuel to become the next king. (You can read the story in 1 Samuel 16).
Our world often focuses outwardly on appearances, the bigger, the better, the beautiful, the powerful, we love the wow factor and success is often measured by the opinions of people.
Jesus’ wow factor came from his words of authority, his light came from turning the attitudes and thoughts of his culture upside down and inside out.
Jesus lived a counter cultural lifestyle. The King of Heaven’s light burned bright in the way he treated people. He valued women, reached out to the poor, welcomed the downtrodden, was merciful, associated with those that earthly kings despised, he comforted, healed, loved and protected. When the religious walked around with a holier-than-thou swagger pointing out the sin in others, Jesus embraced the sinner, offered them abundant life by encouraging them to follow him and he reprimanded the accusers.
Jesus was born to become Israel’s Savior (and ultimately the whole world’s) but the people of Israel thought he’d be a militant savior. God himself, clothed in skin, didn’t come to save Israel from a political leader and to set them free from Roman bondage. The people were looking for an earthly king, someone to rescue them from their circumstances. When they didn’t get what they wanted, many walked away–they turned their back on Jesus. Their souls became blinded by expectations and they couldn’t see past their perceived ideas. They couldn’t see that he was their Spiritual Light to lead them back to God and give them eternal life.
Those who did believe, spread the light and it kept burning throughout the world until it reached us and now we, who believe, become light carriers and the Light of Christmas keeps on giving…