Links Daily Devotional

‘For All People’

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). (Matthew 1:21-23, NIV)

December is typically filled with the goodness of Christmas parties, shopping, snow, gifts under the tree, and the beauty of lights dancing in the night. And, if we are honest, many of us also feel an intermingling ache due to hardship, loss, stress, or loneliness.

Christmas morning is hours away and as I hold the tension of both the goodness and ache that fills my heart, I am grateful for the truth that a Son has been born. Immanuel—God with us!

The Gospel of Matthew tells us that Jesus came to save his people from their sins, and according to the angel’s announcement in Luke’s Gospel, the good news of great joy is “for all people” (Luke 2:10).

Today, instead of focusing on where (Bethlehem) and how (in a stable and manger) the Christmas story unfolded, I am curious about the different people weaving in and out during the days before and after Jesus’ birth: shepherds, wise men, Jews and Gentiles, men and women. God didn’t send Jesus to save one group of people from their sins; he came to save all, regardless of race, gender, or economic status.

The first people to hear the message of Jesus’ birth were shepherds, who were young, uneducated, and close to the bottom of the social structure. When the angels told these young boys or girls to go see the Messiah, they would have felt anxiety and fear of not being welcomed into his presence. After hearing they would find the baby wrapped in cloths, a common practice among peasants and shepherds, they went to Bethlehem and shared all that the Lord had told them. The shepherds were received and all listened to their words regarding what had been told them about this child.

Three wise men also came to visit the baby Jesus. They came bearing expensive gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These men had wealth and it is believed they came from Arabia. The new “king of the Jews” was visited and adored not only by the shepherds who were Jewish, but also by Gentiles from the east.

Other men and women were present in the Christmas story as well. The angel Gabriel visited both Zechariah and Mary, and each sang a song of praise prior to Mary giving birth. At the time of Jesus’ dedication, there were two witnesses at the Temple: Simeon, a righteous man and Anna, a prophet. The stories around Jesus’ birth make it clear that Jesus came for both men and women (that is, “for all people”).

Over the next 24 hours, the anticipation and expectancy we have had toward Christmas morning will come and go quickly, but God’s love through Jesus Christ is steadfast, always present, and available for all…men, women, young and old.

As I move into what today and tomorrow will be or not be, I am going to hold these words written by a friend, “Jesus came, Jesus is here, and Jesus is coming.”

Merry Christmas!

Tracy Hanson
December 24, 2013
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