December 13, 2013
O Hectic Night
By Skip Heitzig
When we read the Christmas story, our minds are filled with all the stuff from nativity sets, Christmas cards, and Christmas songs. Now, I love the songs as much as anyone, but they’re inaccurate. “O Holy Night”? How about “O Hectic Night”? Or “O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie”? More like “how feverishly busy.”
It wasn't a “silent night.” With untold thousands in the town, angels speaking to shepherds, and shepherds seeking the Savior, the song should be something like “Crazy night, holy night. All is pandemonium, all is bright.”
When Joseph and Mary got to Bethlehem, where his family is from, the town was packed with multitudes of out-of-town visitors. And it says “she brought forth her first-born Son, and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn" (v. 7). The “inn” could have been the place where the caravans stopped for the night. But some scholars translate the word as “guest room,” and they speculate that Joseph might have had relatives in the area who told him, "I'm sorry. Another family member got here before you. The guest room is full. You can go out back to the stable. It's all we've got."
Either way, when Jesus Christ, the King of kings, was born, nobody cared. The people of Bethlehem were just too preoccupied with the government edict and their own busy schedules to notice. And doesn't that sound a lot like today? Jesus would love to have a place of prominence in people's lives and hearts during this season of the year. But, for the most part, we’re too busy. We live in a culture that respects busyness, but sometimes that crowds out the most important things of life, like a relationship with God.
In verse 8 the scene shifts to the outskirts of Bethlehem, to the countryside where the shepherds were. If it was a silent night for these shepherds up to now, it wasn't any longer! These shepherds never experienced a lot of excitement, but then the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and angels appeared to announce that the Savior had been born.
Verse 16 says, "They came with haste." It was the first “Christmas rush.” They ran into the city and made an intense search for the Savior. They came seeking Him and they walked away in awe, with Jesus now occupying a place of prominence in their hearts.
These shepherds are great examples for us. They received the word about Christ by faith. The angel said it happened, and they believed it. Then they responded immediately by going to check it out themselves, and they recounted what they saw and heard to people around them. They told the story.
A lot of people come to church week after week, and they hear sermons, and see changed lives around them and the commitments that people have made…but they never check it out themselves, and they never allow Jesus to change their lives. That's a pity.
Jesus Christ came out of heaven to lie in a manger. And one day, He would hang on a cross, as God dealt with our deepest issue, the need to have our sins forgiven. He gave His life for you! So does Jesus occupy a position of importance and greatness in your life? Then tell someone!
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