Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – December 22, 2016
By Tripp Prince
You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end”… “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Luke 1:31-33, 38
One of my children’s favorite Christmas hymns is O Little Town of Bethlehem. We sing it often as a family this time of year, and while in some ways it is a simple and childlike song, as we sing it I am always struck by the depth and beauty of its message. In the final verse, having reflected upon the mystery and wonder of birth of Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the words then look to the present, inviting Jesus to enter into our lives in this very moment.
O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray; Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.
This single line provides for us a treasure chest of insight. Most significantly, we are reminded of one of the central themes of the preparatory season of Advent. As we look back to the birth of Jesus in a lowly manger, we must ask if we are open and ready, like Mary centuries ago, to receive the Lord into our lives today.
The Virgin Mary is, in this season, a picture for us of what a faithful response to God looks like. The angel brings news of great joy, saying that in the birth of Jesus, God is drawing near to fulfill all of his promises and to reign forever. And as confusing or perplexing as this news may have been to Mary, she responds with great faith, saying, “May your word to me be fulfilled.” It is for this reason that she is often referred to as the first disciple, offering us a picture of how we too must respond to God as he draws near.
Though the birth of Jesus in the town of Bethlehem is an unrepeatable, miraculous event, by the work of his Spirit in the world today, God still desires to have his life born within each of us. The story of Christmas isn’t just sentimentality or an interesting bit of history. It is, at its core, an invitation. God in Jesus has drawn near and continues to draw near this very moment. The question that we must answer is this: Are we ready and willing to receive him into our lives this Christmas season?
May we on Christmas day greet the Lord’s birth with hearts full of faith and hope, trusting that he will bear his own life within us as we do!
PrayerFather, just as the birth of Jesus was received with great faith and joy in the example of Mary, may we, like her, open our hearts to receive this precious gift into our lives, families, and communities.
ApplicationWhat work remains in your heart and life to ensure you are ready to receive Jesus this Christmas?
Related ReadingGenesis 18:14; Matthew 19:26; John 3:5-6
Post/Tweet todayGod in Jesus has drawn near and continues to draw near this very moment. #WisdomHunters #BirthofJesus
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