said, if you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will
know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32
“Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth, and all mankind will see God’s salvation.” (Luke 3:5-6)
Herod did not fancy king Jesus’ birth as that great event when “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14) He felt himself threatened and insecure. Many sought to kill baby Jesus even while he was in the manger - not yet fully grown to carry out his mission. They would seek to frustrate the plan of God but to no avail. Many today, like Herod then, have no place for Him in the inns of their hearts. They do not want to hear the message of salvation that He brings. “For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13b) “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10b) Their minds are made up. He has become an intrusion to running their lives the way they would like to. Yet Jesus has set the standards that we should live by if we want to make it to heaven.
Herod did not share in the joyous celebration of the Incarnation and the Nativity, when God became Emmanuel –‘God with us.’ His heart was full with grief and bitterness that manifested itself in violence. This spiteful mood and opposition characterised the Jewish leadership and later simmered into the crucifixion and death of Jesus on the cross of Calvary thirty-three years on. They mocked Him, spat on Him, put a crown of thorns on His head and killed Him - all because He represented the truth.
You would not want to eliminate this little boy in your heart today because the prophet Isaiah said of him that “He will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
When Joseph learnt that his fiancée Mary was pregnant, he received it with mixed feelings. Why? They had not performed the marital rights and Mary was already pregnant. As he planned to end the relationship an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:20)) This explanation set him at ease and he stood by Mary all the way.
Nothing however could equal the honour bestowed upon Mary - ‘you who are highly favoured’ – to be the mother of our Saviour Jesus. Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would be born of a virgin. “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with a child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) She takes on the challenge when angel Gabriel announced to her; “You will be with child and give birth to a son …” (Luke 1:31) In spite of the risk of scandal and shame to her family, the young virgin Mary was up to the task; “I am the Lord’s servant,” she answered, “May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38)
Will you be willing and ready to receive baby Jesus without counting the cost – not heeding peoples’ opinions over the matter? It is going to be a personal commitment that you would have to make. No one was around when Mary pledged to be the mother of the Chosen One. She did not have to consult mother, father, brother, sister or cousin. She took that decision all on her own.
Like Mary, we must not harbour any doubt in our minds. For what the angel promised was that that baby “…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 the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:32-33) Mary was so overwhelmed with joy that she travelled miles to break the news to her cousin Elisabeth. ‘When we walk with the Lord in the light of His word what a blessing He pours on our way,’ writes the hymnist. “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!” (Luke 1:42)
Our Lord Jesus’ greatness was perceived by John the Baptist, a forerunner to Jesus when he said: “But after me will come one who is more powerful, whose sandals I am not fit to carry.” (Matthew 3:11) As Jesus approached him to perform his baptismal rights, John the Baptist hailed; “Look, the lamb that takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
What will you do with Jesus? Love, adore and honour Him - that is your rightful duty.