“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”
Can you imagine walking in Mary and Joseph’s shoes at this point in their lives, on the eve of Jesus’ grand entry into the world? I cannot imagine what they would have been feeling at the moment when the contractions began and labor signs commenced. The nine months of waiting and preparing for Jesus’ coming was finally over. The fullness of time had come, and in a few short hours, He would arrive! Surely their anticipation was so great in those final moments. The Lord had prepared their hearts for nine months for this very moment. Wow!
What must they have been feeling in those last moments together before Jesus arrived on that first Christmas Eve? Were they anxious? Were they humbled? Were they were worried about the fact that they were in a stable and couldn’t find a room in the inn for their new baby boy? Were they worried that the Lord was disappointed at their location? Were they uncomfortable in the stable? Did Mary miss her mother in those moments when she was delivering her first baby? How intense was her labor, and for how long did she labor? Did Joseph have time or success in finding a midwife to help? Were the animals in their way? Did they already have the idea to put Jesus in the manger once He was born? Did the kind stable owner have any clue what was about to happen in his stable? Did they anticipate visitors after Jesus’ birth, or was that a surprise? How did they felt the moment they heard Jesus’ first newborn cry? How did they respond when He was lifted up for all to see? I’m sure the scene was breathtakingly and indescribably glorious!
When I think about Christmas Eve, my immediate thoughts take me back to my childhood, when I couldn’t wait to wake up in the morning to a menagerie of presents. I was filled with eager anticipation as I waited for Christmas morning. Now that I am older, my focus is not on the earthly gifts so much. Yes, of course, I still enjoy the thoughtful gifts from family and friends, but those gifts are not the source of my excitement as they were when I was a child. Now, my heart and mind are drawn to the same eager anticipation that Mary and Joseph must have felt on their first Christmas Eve. My mind is blown away with wonder at the fact that God would come to dwell with us – and especially in the form of a humble baby that needed to be cared for. He entered the world under such humbling circumstances, and why?? Because of His love for you and me! What an amazing Father we serve?
As you approach Christmas, and specifically Christmas Eve, I pray that the Lord will allow you to genuinely feel true excitement and wonder at Jesus’ coming as if you were in Mary’s shoes on the very first Christmas Eve. I pray that you will be in awe as Mary was that the moment for the Savior to enter the world was finally here. I pray that you will stand amazed at the Lord because He has physically come to dwell with man – Immanuel – God with us. I pray that you will truly worship Christ this Christmas Eve. And yes, while we enjoy gifts and family and friends and traditions, I pray that our greatest joy will stem from our worship and adoration of Jesus Christ – our Savior who was willing to be humbled by taking on the form of an infant so that we could know Him! Praise the Lord!