It’s the story of Christmas. The story of Jesus in a manger that we talk about every December. The one we sing about. The one we read about. The story that fuels the holidays and seasonal cheer. The story that initiated our salvation. The one story that matters the most.
But sometimes, we can become susceptible to not really hearing the story amidst the white noise of Christmas merriment. There are moments when we just don’t internalize it. The story meets our ears but not our hearts…it goes through one ear and out the other, leaving behind the residue of Christianese idiom and misplaced worship in tidings of good cheer.
What if the idea of Christmas has managed to cement itself in our minds as a momentary, seasonal celebration but failed to effect real meaning and reflection on the all surpassing glory of our King? Have we missed the real story? The real point of it all?
I’m afraid of becoming desensitized to the majesty of who Jesus actually is. I’m afraid of my own attraction to the happiness of Christmas that Jesus becomes normal and boring. I don’t want Him to be a mascot of a fleeting holiday or a character in a Christmas play. I want Him to be more. To be all.
Reading this passage in Luke 2, I became ever aware of human nature’s propensity to see Jesus as ordinary, forgetting His identity as God. My heart was challenged in recognizing the interaction between Jesus and his earthly parents after he stayed behind at the temple complex. In this passage Jesus couldn’t help Himself but to remain in His Father’s house, the holy temple of Jerusalem. His parents had already left to return to Nazareth but Jesus remained in the temple for days, talking to the teachers and asking them questions. Though the passage doesn’t say this, I like to imagine that Jesus felt some kind of gravitational pull drawing Him to the house of God where he would finally be in the holy temple with His Father, communing together with Him and with others who had devoted their lives to His service, especially since this chapter tells us that His family only went to Jerusalem once a year for the Passover Festival. It makes sense that Jesus as a young boy would want to spend as much time in the temple complex as possible.
But towards the end of the passage when His parents realized that He had remained behind in Jerusalem, they just didn’t understand. They didn’t get it. They blamed Jesus for causing them anxiety, not recognizing how significant it was for Jesus who is fully God to spend time in the holy temple of God and His people. They just saw Jesus as an ordinary 12 year-old kid, disappearing from his parents. Doing what kids do.
They forgot in that moment who He was.
This challenged my heart because I realize I do this to Jesus too. And all too often at Christmas. Sometimes I can forget who Jesus is in the busyness of my own plans and in the activities of the holiday season.
Sometimes I can treat Jesus as too normal, forgetting who He is. I can forget that He is Lord and not just a baby in a manger in a Christmas play…my King and not just a good person who brought hope to the earth…my all-consuming sufficiency and not a slice of happiness in the modernist movement of religious universalism.
When we get complacent or routinely comfortable in our relationship with God we see Him as anything but God. He becomes ordinary in our minds. We start to assume He’s powerless. Or just a figure-head. Like the British monarchy…powerful and prestigious in name but incapable of actually doing anything. These lies permeate our minds when we fail to see Christ as King.
I’ve observed that Christmas can have the unfortunate potential to desensitize us to the glory of Jesus, making Him normal and routine…the usual object of the holiday season instead of the One true King of the universe. Jesus is the LORD and He deserves to be honored as such. He deserves our affection, our time, our trust, and our devotion.
And this is not to condemn Christmas completely. I myself love it the most of any holiday! But lately I’ve wondered if the holiday festivities contribute towards replacing the glory of Jesus. And I just don’t want that to happen in my heart. I don’t want the glamour of Christmas to eclipse the glory of the One due my affection. I want Jesus to remain glorified. Supreme. Majestic. More radiant than all.
So as we enjoy this season of Christmas and rest with our families, may we recognize Jesus for who He is. Not who we assume Him to be. Not who culture says He is. Not who the Christmas movies and songs say He is. Let us look at His word and get to know Him. Let us spend time with Him. Let us frame our Christmas around the glory of our King and not our King around the festivities of our Christmas celebration. May we discover who He truly is in the midst of this Christmas season.
And as as we get to know Jesus, we will find that where He is, is actually the place where we need to be also. Mary and Joseph found their son, Jesus, in exactly the place where they needed to be all along…in the presence of God learning His ways and meditating on His truth. Verse 51 of Luke 2 tells us that “Mary treasured all these things in her heart.” In that moment, I think Mary finally realized what was most important. May we do the same and treasure these things in our hearts as well.
May we seek Jesus this Christmas. For as we seek Him, we will find Him in the place that’s most important…the place where we need to be. With Him. Treasuring Him in our hearts. Discovering that He indeed is the most beautiful One and the true glory of Christmas.
Summary of Luke 2
Caesar Augustus sends out a decree to register the Roman Empire; Joseph returns to his hometown of Bethlehem in Judea along with Mary to be registered; Joseph is of the family line of David; Mary is pregnant; Mary and Joseph are engaged; Mary gives birth while they are in Bethlehem; Mary wraps her son in a snuggly cloth and lays him in a feeding trough, as there are no vacant rooms at the inn in Bethlehem; in the same region, an angel of the Lord appears to a group of shepherds who are out watching their flock; the angel tells the shepherds that the Messiah has just been born and then tells them where they can find Him; all the sudden there is a large group of heavenly hosts joining the angel singing praises and glory to God and proclaiming peace on earth to those He favors; the angel leaves and the shepherds decide to go and look for this Messiah; they go and find Mary and Joseph with the baby in a feeding trough; the shepherds tell them the message they were told by the angel; Mary treasures all these things in her heart and meditates on them; the shepherds return glorifying God about all that they saw and heard; the baby is named Jesus – this name was given to Mary by an angel before he was conceived; He is brought to Jerusalem to be presented to the Lord; while in the temple complex at Jerusalem, a man named Simeon finally gets to see the Messiah, just as it was revealed to Him that he would, by the Holy Spirit; Mary and Joseph are amazed at all that is spoken about Him; Simeon prophecies about Jesus; at this time a temple prophetess named Anna, a widow who never leaves the temple complex, begins to speak to everyone regarding the redemption of Jerusalem; Mary and Joseph return to Nazareth in Galilee; when Jesus is 12 years old, His family goes to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival and then leaves not realizing that Jesus is still in the temple; Jesus tells them He must be in His Father’s house but they don’t understand Him; Jesus is obedient and goes to Nazareth with them; Mary keeps all these things in her heart; Jesus increases in wisdom, stature and favor with God and people.
Jesus in Luke 2
Jesus was born in a day where Jews were subject to Roman rule (v. 1)
Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, was a descendent of David (v. 4)
Jesus is a descendent of David (v. 4)
Jesus’ mother was pregnant while unmarried (v. 5)
Jesus existed as a fetus in Mary’s womb (v. 5)
Jesus’ parents were engaged at the time of his birth (v. 6)
Jesus was born in Bethlehem (v. 6)
Jesus was Mary’s firstborn son (v. 7)
Jesus was wrapped in snuggly cloth once He was born (v. 7)
Jesus existed as a baby (v. 7)
Jesus came into the world vulnerable and needy for human care (v. 7)
Jesus was placed in an animal feeding trough (v. 7)
Jesus was born into lowly and borderline-unsafe conditions (v. 7)
Jesus’ parents were ignored by the folks at the inn (v. 7)
Jesus was born without glory or splendor (v. 7)
Jesus came into the world quietly and without attention (v. 7)
Jesus didn’t come into the world mighty and powerful although He is God (v. 7)
Jesus emulates humility and servanthood in the way God chose for Him to enter the world (v. 7)
Jesus’ birth was proclaimed by angels to shepherds (v. 9-12)
Jesus is the Savior (v. 11)
Jesus is the Messiah (v. 11)
Jesus is the Lord (v. 11)
Jesus was born for us (v. 11)
Jesus was born in the city of David (v. 11)
Jesus’ location was given to a group of faithful, on-the-clock shepherds (v. 12)
Jesus’ birth was proclaimed not to worthy or rich people but to ones considered lowly (v. 12)
Jesus was told to be found wrapped in snugly clothes lying in a feeding trough (v. 12)
Jesus’ birth was celebrated by the angels (v. 13-14)
Jesus’ birth was celebrated by heavenly hosts (v. 13-14)
Jesus’ birth brought glory to God (v. 14)
Jesus’ birth initiated peace on earth to the people God favors (v. 14)
Jesus’ birth announcement from the angel instigated interest and curiosity in the shepherds (v. 15)
Jesus was sought out by the shepherds (v. 15-16)
Jesus was worth the shepherds’ travel (v. 16)
Jesus was found by the shepherds (v. 16)
Jesus’ birth and message was reported by the shepherds to all who would listen (v. 17-18)
Jesus gave hope to the shepherds (v. 17-18)
Jesus’ birth was a message that amazed all who heard it (v. 18)
Jesus was treasured by His mother, Mary (v. 19)
Jesus caused the shepherds to glorify God as they returned home (v. 20)
Jesus’ name was given to Mary by the angel that appeared to her, before he was conceived by the Holy Spirit (v. 21)
Jesus was presented to the Lord in Jerusalem as per the Law of the Lord given to Jews (v. 22-23)
Jesus’ family followed Jewish law (v. 23)
Jesus’ family honored God (v. 22-23)
Jesus was dedicated to the Lord as the firstborn son (v. 23)
Jesus’ family offered a sacrifice according to the law of the Lord of 2 turtledoves, or 2 young pigeons (v. 24)
Jesus’ family’s sacrifice (for their firstborn’s dedication) of 2 turtledoves or 2 young pigeons distinguished them as a poorer family (v. 24)
Jesus’ family was not elite in status or wealthy in means (v. 24)
Jesus’ coming into the world as the Messiah was revealed to Simeon to occur in his lifetime (v. 25-26)
Jesus’ birth was anticipated (v. 26)
Jesus is brought to the temple complex by His parents to perform for Him what was customary under the law (v. 27)
Jesus’ dedication at the temple was typical Jewish practice (v. 27)
Jesus is noticed by Simeon (v. 28)
Jesus as a baby is held and celebrated by Simeon (v. 28)
Jesus causes Simeon to praise God (v. 28)
Jesus is the promised Messiah Simeon had been waiting for (v. 29)
Jesus gives Simeon peace and assurance (v. 29-30)
Jesus is God’s salvation (v. 30)
Jesus was prepared by God in the presence of all people (v. 31)
Jesus is a light (v. 31)
Jesus illuminates revelation to the Gentiles (v. 32)
Jesus is the glory of Israel (v. 32)
Jesus’ parents were amazed at all that was spoken of Him (v. 33)
Jesus and His parents were blessed by Simeon (v. 34)
Jesus is prophesied over by Simeon (v. 34-35)
Jesus would cause the rise and fall of many in Israel (v. 34)
Jesus would be opposed (v. 34)
Jesus’ mother would be pierced with sorrow so that many might be given hope (v. 35)
Jesus’ destiny is made clear from infancy (v. 34-35)
Jesus’ coming into the world coincides with Anna, a widow in the temple complex, declaring the redemption of Jerusalem in the temple (v. 36-38)
Jesus’ parents return with Him to Nazareth, their hometown (v. 39)
Jesus grows (v. 40)
Jesus functions like any other human (v. 40)
Jesus becomes strong (v. 40)
Jesus is filled with wisdom (v. 40)
Jesus experienced the grace of God upon Him (v. 40)
Jesus’ family traveled to Jerusalem every year for the Passover Festival (v. 41)
Jesus’ family faithfully practiced Jewish religion and customs (v. 42)
Jesus stayed in the temple complex for a few days after the Passover Festival when He was 12 years old (v. 43-50)
Jesus’ parents accidentally started to journey back without Him (v. 43-44)
Jesus’ parents didn’t notice that He was missing (v. 43-44)
Jesus’ parents come back to Jerusalem to look for Him (v. 45)
Jesus remained in the temple complex listening to the teachers (v. 46)
Jesus asked the teachers questions (v. 46)
Jesus astounded everyone around Him with His understanding (v. 47)
Jesus astounded everyone around Him with His answers (v. 47)
Jesus is brilliant (v. 47)
Jesus is wise (v. 47)
Jesus is an articulate communicator (v. 47)
Jesus is bold (v. 47)
Jesus spoke with authority (v. 47)
Jesus is not intimidated (v. 47)
Jesus is confident (v. 47)
Jesus’ parents were astonished when they found Him in the temple complex (v. 48)
Jesus was misunderstood by His parents (v. 48)
Jesus was treated like a normal youth by his parents (v. 48)
Jesus’ disappearance (in the minds of His parents) worried them (v. 48)
Jesus caused His parents anxiety because they didn’t yet understand what was most important (v. 48)
Jesus desired to be in His Father’s House above all else (v. 49)
Jesus belongs to God first and His parents second (v. 49)
Jesus reminded his parents that He had to be in His Father’s house (v. 49)
Jesus desires to commune with the Father (v. 50)
Jesus’ parents still didn’t understand what He was saying to them (v. 50)
Jesus was obedient to His earthly parents (v. 51)
Jesus shows obedience out of respect (v. 51)
Jesus shows honor, though He ultimately is due more honor than anyone (v. 51)
Jesus’ mother treasures all these things in her heart (v. 51)
Jesus’ mother finally begins to understand (v. 51)
Jesus increased in wisdom (v. 52)
Jesus increased in stature (v. 52)
Jesus wasn’t born with all fullness but grew into it (v. 52)
Jesus was human (v. 52)
Jesus increased in favor with God (v. 52)
Jesus increased in favor with people (v. 52)
“Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David.” – Matthew 2:11 –
Questions for Today:
- How am I navigating through the busyness of this Christmas season?
- Why should I be intentional to elevate Jesus as my King?
- What can I do to illuminate the glory of Jesus Christ to others this Christmas season?
- Why is it so important to seek Jesus where He is at?
- What next step is Jesus asking me to take in my relationship with Him today?
“Peace Has Come” by Hillsong Worship