By: John Van Der Brink
The coming of the Savior into this sinful world took place in an obscure village in a manger in Bethlehem. It was not attended with pomp or splendor. Few knew of His birth, and even less knew of the significance of His birth. But in heaven, the fulfillment of all the Old Testament predictions was well known. And the angels came to the shepherds over the fields of Bethlehem to make that known unto them also. What these shepherds knew already, we do not know. But the angel appeared to them, the glory of God shone round about them and they were sore afraid.
When God appears, by nature we have reason to be afraid. God is holy and we are sinners. What can we expect when His holiness is revealed? But here the angel said, “Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord”.
What a message these shepherds received! In the black and dark night, suddenly it was light. We live also in a black and dark world. We have a black and dark heart. Such a message – a Savior is born. This is a message of hope, for a fallen world, for fallen sinners. A way of redemption is proclaimed, through the birth of the Son of God. This is He of whom all the Old Testament prophets have spoken. Now He is here, as a humble Babe in Bethlehem.
That fact was such a wonder that suddenly the heavens broke open and the sky was filled with angels praising God and saying “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Here the angels in unison proclaim His birth!
What must these shepherds then have thought? This is seen in what they did. “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which the Lord hath made known unto us. “
Oh blessed shepherds! They not only desired to see. They did see. And they returned and glorified God for all these things. They were privileged by faith to see what Simeon saw some days later when he came by the Spirit into the temple. He too had a blessed Christmas. He longed to see; He did see. And then Simeon could say he had everthing.
And what about us this year? Soon if we are spared it will be Christmas. Every year we are reminded of the birth of the Savior. The world wants to take Christ out of Christmas. What will we do with Christmas? Is there a Spirit wrought need also to “Come and see”? Do we see in the manger the only Hope for a fallen world? Do we need the consolation of Israel? Is there a desire to behold and to embrace? Has it already become Christmas in our hearts?
For many, Christmas is a time of great busyness and distractions. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. We should do the same.
John Van Der Brink is director of the Netherlands Reformed Christian School in Pompton Plains, New Jersey, and a member of the Board of Directors of Christian Council International (CCI), based in Washington DC, sister organization of CCI, based in the Netherlands.