If you aren’t Jewish, then you’re what the Bible calls a “Gentile.” Most folks who follow the Jewish Messiah, Jesus, are just that—Gentiles. And as Gentiles, most of us don’t always understand Jewish Scripture, the Old Testament. This is particularly true when it comes to reading the prophetic books of the Bible. However, it’s helpful to keep in mind that the Old Testament makes the first announcements of Messiah’s coming and ministry. And few prophetic books have more prophecies about Messiah Jesus than the book of Isaiah.
Significant things often begin in seemingly insignificant ways. When sound waves enter the human ear, they bounce off three tiny bones: the hammer, the anvil, and the stirrup. The resulting vibrations send a message to the brain where logic is employed in the decision-making process. Then, the hearer takes certain action steps based on the words heard.
Young Mary, the mother of Jesus, knew so little about that little bundle of joy conceived by the Holy Spirit. She didn’t know those tiny feet would one day walk on water. As she put clean clothes on Him, she didn’t know the extent to which He’d offer redemption and cleansing to humanity. And she didn’t know that her lips kissed the tiny face of God Himself. But if Mary knew so little, how much less did Joseph know? Sometimes cast aside as a minor player in the retelling of the Christmas story, Joseph’s story mirrored that of his wife in many ways. He sat with her marvelling at this baby.
Reading through the Bible can be like taking a road trip. Each book has different scenes and along the way you meet interesting characters.
Everyone in Nazareth would have known Jesus’ mother, Mary, was pregnant before she and Joseph were married. While everyone knew about the scandal, no one understood Mary’s conception was miraculous and one day her baby would save the world.
Long ago in a quiet, crude place where animals sleep, Mary gave birth and felt the soft, human skin of her first-born. The humanity of this scene appropriately pulls us in for a closer look.
“Do not be afraid.” We see this phrase recur throughout the Christmas story and it’s easy to gloss over without fully comprehending it.
At Christmastime we tend to focus on the joy and gladness we feel at the birth of our Saviour rather than phrases like this. But for a moment, let’s think about fear.
When the angel visited Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds it’s understandable the first reaction they had was fear. Fear is an emotional response to impending danger, evil, or pain, whether the threat is real or imagined, hidden or obvious.