One of the things I like about doing a “blog” is the freedom it provides. I have several things going on now that are demanding attention, but Scripturestudent.wordpress.com remains a top priority. I intend to keep the commitment I made originally to make this site one which studies the Scripture carefully as I can and seeks clear examples of hope, courage, and an open door welcoming any of the Good Shepherd’s ‘flock’ back ‘home.’ On this post, I’d like to let you know I’m at work on another of God’s “Comeback Kids.” In Chapter fifteen of Luke (which you could easily call a “Lost and Found” department), Jesus tells a story about a ‘wild young buck’ (a.k.a. The Prodigal Son) who went off on a streak, broke his Dad’s heart, lost a ton of money and even more self-respect, finally came to his senses, returned home and angered his older brother. Not a pretty sight at all, and one that has so many common threads running through so many families that you’ll probably identify yourself or someone you know somewhere in this familiar story. I’d like to invite your participation in that study as we try to learn what we need to know about his adventures and misadventures and how he “came back.” How did he “mess up?” What brought him to the point where he decided to turn his life around? What can you and I learn from his experience and how similar is his “comeback” to our return to our Waiting Father?”
In addition, as we draw nearer the Christmas Season, I’d like to encourage each of us to prepare our hearts for the event which has become the watershed of history: The Birth of Jesus Christ. I hope you’ll find the time to read the accounts of His entry into our dimension and view them in wide-eyed wonder as if you were seeing and hearing the story for the first time!
As I’ve revisited the accounts of His birth, I’ve tried to approach them with “fresh” eyes. You must know what I mean by that. You know how we wear words out. You know how we hear something over and over until it becomes commonplace. Believe me, this is not “commonplace” stuff! If you set aside your tired old assumptions and come with an open mind, a teachable heart, you’ll probably recapture some of the joy of the first Christ mass. Watch how busy the Angel Gabriel is during a very brief span of time. He’s the one we sort of expect to “blow his horn” at the final phase of history, but look what he’s doing during this busy time. You think you have a lot of places to go and things to do?! Watch him at work!
Another thing which struck me very forcefully as I came again to this sacred event, armed only with my Bible and a hungry heart, was that there was so much fear. Pure, raw, heart pounding fear. Events unfolded so suddenly and unexpectedly that some people had living daylights scared out of them.
Matthew 1:18-23 tells how Joseph was anxious, uncertain about what was going on. He knew his beloved sweetheart was pregnant, and he also knew for sure he was not the father. And he just did not know what to do. I’ve never been in his position, thankfully, but I can certainly understand his doubt. His being at a loss as to how to handle a difficult situation, knowing he didn’t want this teen age young lady subjected to the humiliation that was sure to come. He wasn’t just worried about Mary or him being embarrassed. It was common back there and then to stone an adulteress! A child born out of wedlock was indelibly stained and the mother, if not stoned to death, would surely be subjected to a lifetime of humiliation. It took an angel (not certain if this was Gabriel at this time, but he was sure busy later.) appearing in a dream to inform and confirm Joseph’s decision. For his obedient role in this drama, his was the honor of naming Emmanuel (God with us) Jesus (Jehovah is Salvation.). His faith and simple obedience overcame his reluctance and apprehension.
What I’m trying to understand is the human emotion in all this. There are no robots here with sanctified, easy, automatic answers. How do you suppose the wise men felt when they got summoned to Herod’s court for an audience with a despotic king, and then were warned that his inquiry was a deceitful attempt to find and destroy even an infant whom he viewed to be a threat to his throne? It they weren’t afraid, they were not wise men at all. But they weren’t stupid. They saw through his deceit and avoided being made a party to his evil plan.
But then look over at Luke. See how frequently fear is an ingredient. You can imagine how Mary was frightened. And out at the edge of town in the night Jesus was born, there were “shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night,” and the angel of the Lord appeared and they were ‘sore afraid.’ I took that to mean it mean it the angels scared living daylights out of those poor guys. it scared them so bad they HURT.
It’s very common in our day for hearts to be afraid, with churning war clouds, one world crisis tumbling in upon us after another as nations seem to careen out of control. Perhaps terrified if we knew all the possibilities for evil and destruction that lurk in the shadows waiting to be unleashed.
BUT IF CHRISTMAS BRINGS ONE MESSAGE IT RINGS LOUD AND CLEAR: BE NOT AFRAID. FOR BEHOLD I BRING YOU GOOD TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY FOR ALL PEOPLE. FOR UNTO YOU IS BORN THIS DAY A SAVIOUR WHO IS CHRIST THE LORD.
DON’T BE AFRAID. EMMANUEL HAS ARRIVED. GOD IS WITH US.
God’s servant, your friend, brother and fellow student, ~donkimrey