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By BILL BLANKENSHIP
It was a sweet moment. I mean, all the pictures that we see of the young Mary holding the fragile little Baby Jesus; both of them with little halos over their heads. It was a sweet moment. But something else far more powerful was happening in the unseen realm around them, that I want to draw you atention to this morning because it plays a big role in the way we’re living, to what’s happening with us today. I do believe the Incarnation; the infinite God coming into a finite human body and entering the world through a natural birth, placed in a manger surrounded by shepherds, is the greatest miracle in the Bible. That God would leave the heaven and come as our salvation, our redemption, but choose to do it through coming in as a baby, taking on human flesh while not giving up any of his deity, is the greatest miracle in scripture.
Well, I think somewhere a long the way, we’ve lost the awe, the wonder, the mystery of it. We’ve made the manger some kind of religious relic. In fact there are people who construct mangers and they worship at these mangers. They come and pray at these mangers when there’s nothing — that was not the point of the baby being in the manger. The point was, “Hey, there are a lot of babies in Bethlehem.” So the angel’s saying to the shepherds, “Look there’s a lot of newborn babies right now in Bethlehem, but the one you’re looking for is going to be in a nasty manger. That’s the way to tell if that’s the baby you’re looking for. But somehow we’ve made the manger the focus of that when it’s what was inside the manger that was important.
There were many angelic appearances. This was not the only angelic encounter in the story of the birth of Jesus. In fact, there were six different angelic interactions with human beings in the telling of the story. Luke tells about three of them and Matthew tells about three of them. In my opinion, it was not just an opinion I think it’s fact, that this was the most concentrated account of angels coming into the natural realm of human beings in the Bible. Nowhere else in the Bible are there this many angelic visitations in a short period of time. Something was happening in the heavenly realms around them. Something was happening in the unseen realm that I think it is important for us to know. There’s a reason why so many angels came. And these angels came for various reasons.
We know that in Luke, obviously we know that the Angel Gabriel told Zechariah that he was going to have John the Baptist and his wife would be pregnant, and then Gabriel is the one that showed up to Mary and said, “Listen, you’re about to be with child. The Holy Spirit’s going to come upon you.” And then the third reason, obviously the angels and the shepherds that we just mentioned here. But also in Matthew, there were three different times that angels came, and they were mostly to Joseph. All three of them were with Joseph the father; the dad.
The point to all this to remember about the birth of Jesus is what John is telling us in Revelation 12:7 .And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down. That ancient serpent, called the Devil or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth and his angels with him and then — this is verse 10.
This is amazing. Please focus on verse 10 with me. “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say” — this is John, a human being, he’s on an island, he hears this loud voice from heaven; literally a loud voice he says, “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God.” And this is the awe of the birth of Jesus. Yes, it was a little woman, a little young lady with a sweet baby and it was probably sweet, warm, and cuddly, but there was a war raging in heaven and the birth of Jesus was more than just a little baby being born to a young couple. It was the kingdom of heaven coming to the earth; salvation coming for all of us. That is the awe, That is the mystery of Christmas.
Perspectives is a regular column sponsored and written by members of the Ketchikan Ministerial Association.