The unrealistic Nativity scene, it is likely that the visitors held the baby Jesus... wouldn't you have wanted to if you had been standing or kneeling there?
Thoughts of the Christmas story have naturally been going through my mind a lot this week, and something author and pastor Kyle Idleman said came to my mind:
“Sometimes, I hear people talk about the different men and women of the Old Testament, and there is a hint of jealousy. They may say it, or just insinuate it, but here's what they communicate...'What would it have been like to hear God's voice and see him move in such powerful ways? I wish it was the same for us as it was for those whose stories we read about in scripture. When I get to heaven I can't wait to ask David, Elijah, or Moses what it was like.' But I think it will be just the opposite in heaven. Before we can ask David what it was like to slay a giant, to win the battles, he'll say, Tell me what it was like on earth to have the Holy Spirit inside of you, giving you strength when you are weak. We might say to Elijah, What was it like to call down fire from heaven before the prophets of Baal and to raise that boy from the dead? And I think Elijah might say, yeah, he actually ended up dying again. You tell me what it's like to have God living inside of you. What was it like to live life on earth with the Holy Spirit giving you joy when you're depressed or giving you the power to overcome that sin in your life? We might say to Moses, What was it like to follow the cloud by day and the fire by night? What was it like to meet with God on that Mountain? And Moses might say, I had to climb that mountain to meet with God. You tell me what it was like to have him dwell in you everyday. What was it like to have the Holy Spirit giving you directions when you didn't know what to do or where to go?”
What if that is true of the shepherds and wise men? They had no clue when they gazed at Jesus as a baby of what he would do. The shepherds most likely saw Him as One who would free them from Rome and set everything right. The wise men probably thought He would be a great earthly king. None of them knew what we know, that the baby lying there would die on a cross and rise again to save us from our sins. They had no clue that this baby would some day live inside of people and you wouldn't need to go to a certain place to find Him.... that He would be everywhere. They had no clue that "Immanuel, God with us" meant more than seeing Him there in the flesh......it meant we can have Him with us in a way they couldn't imagine. What if when we get to Heaven, they ask us what it was like living our lives this side of the manger and cross? What if they envy us for knowing all of our lives about the cross, Jesus' sacrifice, the resurrection?
Even if we could step back through time and stand or kneel with the shepherds and wise men, what good would that do us if we aren't doing all we can do here today to know that same Jesus and follow Him with all we have? Sure, how awesome that would be to be there on that night that changed the world, but we have something so much better: we can have Him in our hearts and lives in a way that they had no clue of that night.
Are we following Jesus the way we can, the way we should......or is He just another of the many facets and areas of our lives? Is He our everything, or does He come in second place to everything else?
Maybe I am wrong....... but if the shepherds and wise men could see and know what we know and can have, they would switch places with us in a heartbeat..... and they would give their all, not just part of themselves to follow Jesus.
We truly have it better than those visitors of 2000 years ago. Are we doing as we should with what we know and can have with that same Jesus today?