One of the most wide-spread traditions we all have at Christmas is buying presents for others and keeping them secret until just the right time. I buy gifts year-round in anticipation of Christmas coming. When the time is right, I give them to the recipient and they unwrap them to reveal what I have chosen for them. I always hope they will like what I gave them.
God gave the greatest gift ever given on that first Christmas when “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Sometimes we take that for granted. But our Messiah Redeemer was expected for many years before the time was right for the plan of God to be revealed.
Many of us read the Christmas story from Luke 2 that tells of the angels appearing to the shepherds and proclaiming the good news of Jesus’ birth. Verse 15 says, “And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord has made known unto us.”
This “thing that had come to pass” wasn’t something the shepherds took lightly. Watching and waiting for the Messiah was the focal point for every Jew. For hundreds of years, all of Israel had been waiting for the promised Messiah, longing for that day to arrive. The prophets during those times would receive pieces of the puzzle of God’s mystery. God showed various aspects of the Messiah to prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, Hosea and others. There are also many prophetic scriptures in the Psalms.
God chose not to unwrap the whole mystery to the prophets, but gave pieces of information, a little here and a little there. These pieces were to help identify Him when He was revealed. But the puzzle still remained unfinished. It remained a great mystery.
Numerous prophecies were given down through the years. It was prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, He would suffer and be pierced, He would be born of a virgin, He would minister in Galilee, He would be preceded by a forerunner, and that He would ultimately be rejected by His own people.
But, in the fullness of time when God’s plan unfolded, it was breath-taking and astounding! No one could have imagined that God Himself would come down from heaven and live among us. No one would have ever thought that He would become a human Baby, be born in a stable and be laid in a manger. Yet, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us; and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” God chose to reveal the mystery of the ages through Jesus Christ. There is no glory like the glory of Jesus! And yet He came to show us His glory and make His glory to shine through all who would receive Him. John 1 tells us that to those who would receive Him, He gave power to become the sons of God. His power, not ours.
He spoke to Mary and Joseph through an angel, to the wise men by a star, to the shepherds through a heavenly host saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace, good will to men!” He speaks to us today by His Spirit. He may use a message, a song or His written Word to speak to us, but it is His Spirit that reveals it to our soul. He will reveal Himself to you today, too, if you seek after Him.
Many think they are too young or too old or too unworthy. But as long as we live, we are never too young or too old to surrender our lives to Jesus. And no matter our status in this world, Jesus will reveal Himself to us personally if we seek Him. Kings bowed before Him. Lowly shepherds did, too! He revealed Himself to them both.
Now, we have the full revelation of God’s plan for our salvation. So what are we going to do about it? We need to be like the shepherds and go tell everyone so they can know Him too. The shepherds wasted no time in making this gift known to others. They eagerly received the message, acted on it and shared it. We have been given that same gift, that same revelation of Jesus Christ. Have we received Him? Have we passed on this gift to others? It’s the best gift to give and receive.
“Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith - to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” Romans 16:25-28