Advent: the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. The first season of the Christian church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.
Today is the first Sunday of Advent and I woke with Jesus on my mind this morning. This year, for some reason, my heart is particularly tender toward Christmas (which, if you know me, is huge), and as I lay in bed this morning I began to ponder something that gave me huge cause for pause.
Jesus Left Heaven
The simplicity of those words belie the magnitude of their meaning. Think about them! Ponder the events and emotions that surround them.
Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, who had always existed in perfect, unbroken union with God, the Father, and God, the Holy Spirit, would very soon leave that perfect fellowship. When you and I are in relationships that are beautiful and sweet and harmonious the thought of leaving can cause great sadness, even if it is only for a short time. I cannot imagine the emotions of the Father as He turned to Jesus and said, “Now! Go!” Of course, I know I am projecting human emotions onto God, yet I have to believe that there was a void in heaven when Jesus stepped out and came to earth. Did the angels weep? Was there silence in heaven because everyone missed the presence of Jesus?
Jesus left heaven with full disclosure of the horrors awaited Him on earth. Was there dread in His holy heart? Angst? Fear? The teeniest bit of uncertainty? He could have said, ‘Nope! Not going. They are not worth leaving heaven.’ I certainly would have. We know from Scripture that as the final hours of His earthly life approached Jesus asked the Father if there was any way other than the cross. The stress on His body was so intense that He sweated blood. It makes me wonder what He felt in those last hours before He stepped out of heaven, put on human flesh, and submitted to the Father’s will for leaving.
Jesus left heaven for ME and for YOU. Whatever you feel you have been asked to give up in this lifetime, Jesus gave up far more. He laid aside His glory to put on human flesh. He stepped out of heaven knowing His mission on earth would be to die so that you and I could have restored fellowship with the Father.
Sometimes we resist stepping outside the walls of our homes or our social circles in order to bless another person, yet Jesus left heaven, not for His good, but for ours. Perhaps that does not impact you the way it has touched me this morning. I am slack-jawed at the sacrifice Jesus made in the leaving….a sacrifice that was for me.
As we begin this Advent journey I want to encourage you to be intentional in your preparation for the celebration of Christ’s birth. Allow your heart to fully engage with all that Advent and Christmas mean. To help you do so, I highly recommend Kris Camealy’s Advent devotion book, Come, Lord Jesus for your pondering pleasure. Here is a link to it on Amazon.
NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.
My heart is so full this Christmas because of the love and grace of Jesus. The Giver became the Gift, and because of that, I am rich in His love and care. I am also rich because of your presence in this community. Thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing. I am blessed each time one of you reaches out, either through a comment or an email.
Merry Christmas from my family to you and yours. I pray you are profoundly aware of Jesus and His love for you this Christmas season and beyond.
Captured by His Grace,
Welcome back to our visit with some of the supporting cast of the Christmas story. Thus far we have considered Caesar Augustus and the Inn Keeper who turned Joseph and Mary away. Today we visit with the shepherds who were the startled recipients of the angelic announcement that the Messiah had been born. Join me for our time with these men.
If I were God (and we can all be profoundly thankful that I am not), I probably would not have chosen a bunch of smelly, rough-around-the-edges shepherds to be the first to know about the birth of my only Son, the long awaited Messiah. Heavens no! I would have announced it to kings and presidents; rulers and royalty. Shepherds? Good heavens, no!
Today we are in the fields of Bethlehem for a visit with a group of nameless, faceless shepherds who were the first to hear of the birth of Jesus.
Luke 2: 8-9: Now, there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.
Lest we think these shepherds were wimps for being frightened by the angelic visitation, it is important to note that shepherds were usually manly men. They had to be. A shepherd had to live outside, find water and food for his sheep, and protect them from wild animals, so these men were accustomed to a rugged way of life. But, when an angel of the Lord stood before them, they were greatly afraid. It is a safe bet that none of them had ever been visited by an angel. Their response to this heavenly visitor is consistent with the reaction of the majority of people who had an angel burst on the scene of their lives.
Luke 2: 15 – 18: So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us. And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
What I find so wonderful is that these shepherds were twice moved to immediate action. They did not form a committee to decide what to do, nor did they take a vote. There was none of the kind of mental gymnastics we so often find ourselves engaging in when faced with a decision about obeying God:
Gosh, what will we do with the animals?
It’s the middle of the night. I’d rather sleep.
It’s a long way into town.
That baby will still be there tomorrow, or next week. We can go then.
None of that. They were moved to immediate action. It seems that they knew the Messianic prophecies, and their hearts were compelled to go seek out the long-awaited Messiah.
Once they saw Jesus, they became the first missionaries. They went out and told everyone they met that the Messiah that Israel had been looking for had arrived, and could be found sleeping in a feed trough in Bethlehem. They couldn’t keep quiet about it, although there was great danger in their proclamation. Their very lives could be taken by Rome for proclaiming a king other than Caesar.
Messiah had come. The prophecies had promised, and now God had sent Him.
These rough, smelly shepherds obviously had hearts that were tender toward the Lord and His Christ. Their tender, submissive hearts bless me so much.
Ask yourself three questions as you ponder the shepherds:
Is your heart tender toward Jesus?
Have you sought Him out and worshipped Him recently?
How many people have you shared Jesus with lately?
Let’s allow these Christmas shepherds to set an example that we will follow…an example of sharing the good news of the gospel of Jesus to lost and dying world.
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HeBrews: A Better Blend Bible Study
When Words Won’t Come Devotional Book
Legacy Bible Study, DVD, and Leader Guide
See the sidebar on this website to order the Legacy products.
I would surely be blessed if you purchased my products. I believe they would bless those who receive them.
Welcome, friend, to our visits with a few of the characters of the Christmas story that we sometimes gloss over. God included them in the story, so we believe they have purpose. If you missed the first post about Caesar Augustus, you can find it HERE. Today we turn our attention to the Bethlehem innkeeper. His inn was where Joseph and Mary tried to stay after their long journey from the Galilee. Poor Mary was with child…greatly with child, and the inn keeper had no room for them.
This week, we turn our gaze to Luke 2:6 – 7 (NIV). Although an innkeeper is not mentioned specifically in this verse, the concept of an inn necessitates an innkeeper, so let’s see what we can discover about this supporting cast member in the Christmas story.
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
As I researched the inns of Jesus’ day, I discovered that often they were not exactly what we might think. The inns of that day could have consisted of a structure with rooms where travelers lodged for the night. However, it was just as likely that it was nothing more than an open, level field near a water source where shepherds or travelers could pitch a tent for the night and water their animals.
At the time of Jesus’ birth, Bethlehem, a small hamlet just a few miles from Jerusalem, would have been teeming with people seeking to do the very same thing Joseph had come to town to do…..register for the census. The man who owned the ‘inn’ or field where Joseph and Mary ultimately stopped would have had his hands full. Regardless of whether the inn was a structure or a field, the innkeeper would have been busy making sure that every feed trough was filled with water and straw for the animals. He was likely a prominent man in Bethlehem if he owned enough land to house an inn.
The day the young couple knocked on his door, our innkeeper might have been so weary from tending to the travelers lodged on his land that he shooed Mary and Joseph away quickly, and closed the door behind them. He certainly didn’t need one more knock on that door. There was no room for an ant, much less a man, a pregnant woman, and a donkey. All he probably wanted to do was eat supper and rest, not unlike many of us after a long day at work or at home tending to little ones. He had no idea that the couple he just sent on their way, were about to become the parents of the long-awaited Messiah.
Mr. Innkeeper was part of God’s magnificent plan, a plan that had been foretold hundreds of years before. The tiny baby boy that was born and placed in a stone feed trough would one day die for the sins of all mankind, and for the sins of the innkeeper. Did he ever realize exactly who had passed his door, or was he too busy to take notice of the shepherds and the star that led them to the baby?
How often are you and I like Mr. Innkeeper? We are rushed, harried, and stressed much of the time, which causes us to never notice that Jesus has passed our way. This Christmas, let’s learn a lesson from our Innkeeper friend. Let’s make time and space for Jesus; let’s show the love of Christ to those who do not know Him. Because, after all, He is the reason for the season.
How are you being intentional about making room and time for Jesus this Christmas? Will you continue in that practice after Christmas is past?