I guess I could start my yearly reading plan in December rather than January. That is if I wanted to be reading the story of Jesus birth in the month when we focus on celebrating His birth.
But this morning, though I am reading in the Minor Prophets, the end of John’s gospel, and the end of all things, Revelation, I’m picking up a lot of why Jesus came down.
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for Me One who is to be Ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.
(Micah 5:2 ESV)
Bethlehem, more than just a quaint place with zero occupancy and a cozy manger ready for an idyllic nativity. Instead, a key piece to the prophetic puzzle foretelling the coming of One who is to be Ruler. And, while He will come forth in time and space to rule a people, His coming has been determined from of old and is ultimately for God — that the Creator might be known and the creation be reconciled to Him for His glory. O come let us adore Him!
And the One who comes to rule will also make Himself known as a Shepherd.
And He shall stand and shepherd His flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD His God. And they shall dwell secure, for now He shall be great to the ends of the earth. And He shall be their peace.
(Micah 5:4-5 ESV)
We get so distracted by the shepherds in the field at this time of year that we often forget to behold the Shepherd lying in the manger. One who would gather a flock, would die for His flock, and would forever protect His flock, thus securing for His flock eternal peace. In a coming day to stand before them, as even then He shepherds them, in all His eternal might and majesty. O come let us adore Him!
But this is only good news if it’s true.
Then Pilate said to Him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world — to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.”
(John 18:37 ESV)
Even as I read of Jesus’ final hours this morning, I’m reminded of His birth. The King of a kingdom not of this world (Jn. 18:36a), coming into this world to bear witness to reality. In the manger not only a Shepherd, but the Truth. The Word of God from before the beginning who, in the beginning, has always been with God, and has always been God. The One who made all things, made Himself in the likeness of His creation. The embodiment of life and light, come to bring life and light to those who would hear and receive Him (Jn 1:1-5). Come to bear witness to the truth. Thus, those who truly celebrate His coming bearing witness as well that they are of the truth. And that, only by God’s redeeming grace. O come let us adore Him!
Even as I read in the last pages of my bible, and the apocalyptic descriptions of the end of time before the onset of eternity, the Child is clearly seen — His coming, His ascension, and His coming again.
And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her Child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male Child, One who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her Child was caught up to God and to His throne . . .
(Revelation 12:4b-5 SV)
Oh, to be cautious of gazing upon the babe in the manger too intently for, just as is true of the cross, just as is true of the tomb, the manger is empty. This One born to rule all nations is no longer the beautiful Child of Bethlehem. He is the risen, ascended King in waiting. Reigning even now in heaven. Preparing even now a place for us that we might be where He is. Waiting even now as every last sheep to be given Him is brought into His fold. Anticipating even now that time of His return and His glorious appearing.
And we wait too. O come let us adore Him!
Hmmm . . . sure, starting my reading plan in December would align pretty well with the His birth story, but finishing my reading plan in December provides the blessed reminder that it’s all so much more than just a birth story. It is all His story.
And we enter in only because of God’s grace. And so we worship, always for God’s glory.
O come let us adore Him!