So little ones, you want to hear my story again? Well, I guess I can tell it, you know it really never gets old. It was several years ago that I was standing with your two uncles, out in the field watching our sheep. It was a beautiful night, a cool breeze, a crystal clear sky, the sheep was quiet, I even noticed a star that was brighter than normal. Yes, it was one of those rare beautiful nights that I enjoy so much.
We had just settled down on top of the hill to eat our meal when suddenly the sky was brighter than day. We fell on our faces afraid of what was happening when we heard this beautiful voice that said, “Do not be afraid, I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone! The Savior, yes the Messiah, the Lord, has been born tonight in Bethlehem. How will you know Him? You will find a baby wrapped in a blanket, lying in a manger.”
That’s when the most amazing thing happened, the angel was joined by a multitude of heavenly host and they were singing praising God, and they were picked us to give this message to. We three lowly shepherds, were given the message of the good news.
Needless to say we forgot all about our five fish and two loaves of bread. I said, “Lets get to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see this amazing thing the Lord has told us about.” So off we went, leaving sheep and cloak behind, we ran as fast as these old feet would go.
We entered the town and asked a couple of men if they saw what we saw and they looked at us like we were sick in the head. So we started looking on our own. We were going down Ceasar Avenue when Thaddeus shouted, “There’s a stable behind this inn, should we check out it’s manger?”
“Yes!” I yelled, “Lets not leave a manger unturned until we find Him.”
We ran to the stable and was met at the door by a man. We told him of what the angel told us and how the choir sang for us.He was smiling as he said, “I know your angel, he spoke to me a few months ago. Hallelujah, God’s promise is true. I am Joseph, husband of Mary who is mother of Jesus. Come, see God’s blessing.”
We slowly walked in, amongest the cows and donkeys, Mary sat on a pile of hay with this newly born baby in her arms. She seemed to glow, I guess it was the glow that every new mother has, but the baby, aw, the baby just radiated. He was so pure and innocent as He laid so quietly in His mother’s arms. I still get choked up just thinking about it.
Joseph walked up behind us and said, “His name is Jesus, God’s gift to all people.”
Mary looked up, “Just as He promised in the Law and Prophets. His name has to be Jesus, which means Savior.”
I suddenly realized how hard I was breathing. I don’t know if it was the running or the magnificence that we were in the presence of. I’ve had my own sons, but I didn’t feel like this at their birth. Something was different besides the appearance of the angels and the fact that He was born in a stable. My knees became weak, could this really be the Messiah? Could our salvation be before us?
Then something wonderful happened. The donkey that was standing behind the pile of hay, walked around to the mother and child. It looked at Mary and then at Joseph as if it were asking permission, it then stretched his neck out and softly touched his mussel to the child on His cheek. It backed away and returned to where it was munching on the hay.
Thaddeus, whom you know is the smartest one of our family, he fell to his knees and bowed his head. Daniel and I then also knelt in awe of this baby.
Mary spoke, “Oh, how I praise the Lord. How I rejoice in God my Savior! For He took notice of his lowly servant girl, and now generation after generation forever shall call me blest of God. For He, the mighty Holy One, has done great things to me. His mercy goes on from generation to generation, to all who reverence Him. How powerful is His mighty arm! How He scatters the proud and haughty ones! He has torn princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly. He has satisfied the hungry hearts and sent the rich away with empty hands. And how he has helped his servant Israel! He has not forgotten His promise to be merciful. For He promised our fathers, Abraham and his children, to be merciful to them forever.”
How do you respond to someone that speaks so? All I could think to say was “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” I guess that was appropriate, it just seemed pitiful after the blessing that Mary gave. Sometimes silence is truly golden. We bowed before the child and bid our farewells as we had to get back to the sheep. Now you little ones know how sheep are, without their shepherd to keep them together and protect them, they usually scatter and are prey to animals stalking about. When we returned to the herd, they were as we left them, eating peacefully, full and content. Another miracle in a night of miracles.
Daniel, Thaddeus and I sat down and picked up the meal we left behind. We talked of the angel and the things we saw that night. We told it over and over as we didn’t want to forget any of it, I knew one day I would be telling my grandchildren about it.
Eight days later, Thaddeus and I went to the temple to pray. We met cousin Simeon outside the gate. He was in a hurry, it seems the Holy Spirit had told him to get to the temple, that his prayer had been answered. Remember that Simeon was told by the Holy Spirit that He wouldn’t die before he saw God’s anointed King.
We were following him and up ahead they were performing the circumcision ceremony. There stood Mary and Joseph, the couple with the child in the stable. I started towards them but Simeon beat me there, he moved pretty fast for an old man. He took the child in his arms and started praising God. “Lord, Now I can die content! For I have seen Him as you promised me I would. I have seen the Savior you have given to the world. He is the Light that will shine upon the nations, and He will be the glory of your people Israel.”
Mary and Joseph stood there with their mouths open, marveling at what Simeon was saying about Jesus. Simeon then spoke blessings over them, but he turned to Mary and said, “A sword shall pierce your soul, for this child shall be rejected by many in Israel, and this to their undoing. But He will be the greatest joy of many others. And the deepest thoughts of many hearts shall be revealed.” He handed Jesus back to Mary and turned and left, with the biggest smile over his face.
I was standing there looking at them, I was a little amazed at Simeon myself. Joseph looked at me and smiled, nodding his head in remembrance of that beautiful night. Before I could acknowledge him, a prophetess walked up to them.
Every time I went to the temple I saw the prophetess Anna there, She came up as Simeon was walking off and she also started praising God, and telling everyone that the Messiah had finally arrived. Did you hear that children, the Messiah had finally arrived.
I was still trying to process all this. Why did the Messiah come to a poor couple? Why was he born in the most dirty, worthless part of Bethlehem? Why did the angels come to lowly shepherds? I didn’t know, I still don’t know, but it must have been God’s plan from the beginning. I was always told in the synagogue that the Messiah would come riding a white horse, delivering Israel from our oppressors. This child didn’t look like a warrior.
Several years later, I was standing in the field close to the road. It was another one of those glorious days that make you are glad to be alive. I stood there with staff in hand letting the warm sun soak into my face when I hear a commotion. Along the road came a whole group of people. All of them trying to get a man’s attention, they were yelling His name, “Jesus, over here.” “Jesus, tell us a story.” “Jesus, perform a miracle.” The crowd quieted and a man walked through them, it was Jairus the leader of our synagogue.
He fell to his knees in front of Jesus and said something to him that I couldn’t hear. It must have been important for Jairus to bow before a common traveling preacher. But that was when a memory came flooding back into my mind, of a night when I knelt before a baby in Bethlehem, and yes, oh yes His name was Jesus. The angel said He was the Messiah. There before me was standing the Messiah.
I dropped my staff and run toward the crowd, I had to tell Him my story, of how I had been there just after His birth. As I neared, Jesus stopped suddenly and turned. I could plainly hear His voice, “Who touched me?” A crying woman admitted that she had, and then Jesus said the most amazing thing, “Woman, your faith has healed you, go in Peace.” As I stood there He had healed that woman. This was no normal man, this had to be the Messiah.
I heard stories from time to time about this prophet that was healing people around the countryside, and about the wonderful words that He spoke about God’s kingdom. All this time I was wondering when He would mount that white Stallion and free us from our bondage. Then I heard the news that they had crucified Him. The priest had Him killed because His message convicted them. I thought, well, that is that. Maybe Jesus was the forerunner of the Messiah and the Messiah was yet to come.
Then a man stopped by while I was beside that same road where I had seen Jesus. He asked if I had heard of Jesus and I said “Yes I had.” I then proceeded to tell him my story of the Angel and Simeon and even what I saw on that same road. He then told me what he had seen.
“They tried, convicted and hung Him on the cross. After three days He rose again from the dead, I saw His empty tomb. He then appeared to us again and taught us and told us to spread His Good News throughout the world. He was the Messiah, He saved us from our sins. He is God’s perfect lamb, sacrificed for us who could never pay the price for our salvation. He is whom He said He is, and He wants you to join Him in Heaven where together, you will worship the Holy Father God. Salvation is a gift for you from Jesus the Christ, all you have to do is accept it, accept Him as the Messiah.”
It all became clear to me then, the Holy Spirit cleared my mind and I saw God’s deliverance. I saw that the Messiah wasn’t sent to save us from Rome or our oppressor’s, He was sent to save me from me and my sins.
So there you have it, little ones, the story of a baby born to save us. One day, maybe this day, you will have to decide for yourself if you want to follow Jesus. May my life be a gift to you, an example of listening and following the Chosen One, The Bright and Morning Star. Now go play, your Grandmother and I have a feast to prepare.