With a home security system Bob and Shelly thought was more foolproof than a bank vault, the young parents awoke hours before dawn on Christmas to the rise of a terrible clatter. Had some team bypassed their system?
As Bob checked their toddlers’ room for their fleece-covered sleeping forms, he only spotted empty beds. Soon, he followed his twin boys’ excited cries to the Christmas tree. Having experienced only one other Christmas and they were just babies, the toddlers knew Christmas had something to do with surprises. It was 3:15 in the morning! Their parents were surprised, all right.
The one-and-a-half year old twin boys had flipped the switch on the electric fireplace, shed their clothes, and unwrapped every gift under the tree as well as the stockings on the mantle. Each nudist was taking turns on a spring-mounted rocking horse. As for the presents, you couldn’t blame the boys. The toddlers couldn’t read yet. Just as their parents promised, Christmas is full of surprises! Proof of that were the hills of crumpled wrapping paper in a wide swath around the youngsters and the tree.
In the same way these young parents were surprised by their sons’ pre-dawn celebration, the first family and the first Christmas included quite a few surprises as well.
Though the birth of a King of Heaven had been predicted hundreds of years earlier, today’s worldwide publicity got the word out that Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton’s pregnancy “makes history” because the baby due in six months will become a future king or queen of England. All this in less time than it takes to check new messages on the internet.
Who knew about Jesus around the time of his birth? Maybe two dozen people.
What were the angelic publicists doing keeping the Messiah’s birth such a secret?
Gabriel told Mary she would be the virgin mother of Jesus, the savior of the entire world. Joseph got the divine message in a dream, too. Only a small number of people knew about the birth of the King of the Jews. He wasn’t what they expected.
While most waited, they pictured a king in traditional robes with wealth, privileges, power, and prestige. Jesus, the King, actually came into the world in a surprise package: wrapped in cloths, the newborn took his first breath in the lowliest of places: a stable. But as had been prophesied centuries before, Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times. [ Micah 5:2]
Who knew about Jesus around the time of his birth? Mary’s relative Elizabeth, wife of Zechariah, and later mother of John the Baptist, learned of Mary’s pregnancy with Jesus at when the young woman went to visit her. What about the shepherds outside Bethlehem who got a madrigal performance and announcements from angels about the Savior’s birth? How many could that be? A dozen? Then there was the innkeeper, who directed the couple to a cave where he stabled his animals. Did he have any idea Jesus wasn’t just an ordinary baby? Or was he simply annoyed the couple showed up without much money or planning needing a midwife and a bed–with none in sight?
After Jesus was a week old, Mary and Joseph took him to Jerusalem for a purification ceremony. Two others knew for sure they were seeing and touching the Messiah: prophetess Anna and the devout Temple worker Simeon. What a surprise! They were just doing what they normally did that day.
Check the Bible for Luke 1 and 2, Matthew 1 and 2 for the stories and quotes.
As the wise men from the east found Jesus’ star and followed it, they told King Herod about the infant king. He called together the people’s teachers of the law and chief priests. The wise men found the infant king. Herod and his people didn’t.
Jesus grew to be a man fulfilling the prophecy as healer, teacher and savior like no other. Surprise!
So Christmas surprises come with the territory and the season. Hang loose and enjoy the moments as well as the clatter. But remember that Jesus is the real reason for the season.
[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, available from Amazon and her website, www.button-to-god.com. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]