The Anticipation of Christmas

The LORD himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).
Isaiah 7:14
On the first Christmas Eve there were no brightly colored lights on any homes. There were no stockings that had been hung with care and no visions of sugar plums on anyone’s mind. It was just another night in Bethlehem.

But world history was about to change. When Mary and Joseph arrived in town, there was no room in the inn. So the Son of God entered our world in a stable or, most likely, a cave.

Now when parents have a child, especially their first child, they call their loved ones and tell them the weight and length of the baby and the actual time of birth. On the first Christmas, God the Father also made an announcement that His Son had been born.

Whom did He tell? You would think He would have told Caesar that the Son of God had been born. But instead, God directed His message toward shepherds who were out in the fields at night, watching over their flocks.

The angel told them, I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger (Luke 2:10–11 NLT).

So the shepherds went to Bethlehem, where they found Joseph and Mary, and the baby in her arms.

There are a lot of good things about Christmas, of course, but as we anticipate its arrival, let’s realize that Christmas cannot deliver on its promises. I think deep down inside, what we’re really longing for is not Christmas but Christ. I think the anticipation we have for Christmas is a longing for God Himself. And that’s the message of Christmas: Immanuel, God is with us.


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