My longtime friend from Louisiana, Joe McKeever, crafted a column titled, “10 Things About the Christmas Story You May Have Missed.” I was fascinated at these 10 items, so much so that I began to explore on my own some less obvious things surrounding the first coming of our Lord Jesus.
In his panoramic view of that very first Christmas scene, some of the things McKeever observed are:
- Joseph had no speaking lines
- Mary was a deep thinker
- After the angels appeared to the shepherds, they didn’t command the shepherds to do anything
- Head knowledge about God’s promises is not sufficient for personal relationship
- The prosperity gospel stumbles at the reality of the poor-ness of Jesus’ family on earth
- When you know the truth, you cannot keep it silent
In my own investigation, I observed a few more things about the Christmas story:
(1) The donkey that Mary rode to Jerusalem is never mentioned again.
Although this lowly creature is mentioned throughout Scripture, and one is given the capacity to speak (Numbers 22), this particular one carried the weight of pregnant Mary and the baby Jesus in her womb. In all the donkey circles, don’t you know he could tell a story that topped Balaam’s talking donkey? However, authentic service is never about who has the best story or who can take credit for having a particular role in something great.
The key central figure in this entire historical event is not the donkey or Joseph and not even Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Lord Jesus in human flesh, who is the redeemer of mankind, is the focus of attention of all history.
(2) The innkeeper missed a great marketing opportunity.
Think about it. If you owned a hotel or a business establishment and the most important person in all of human history were to just visit your retail store, don’t you think you would put up a sign in lights saying, “Jesus was here!” Duh! Sure, you would. And you would also make a point communicating with customers that “Jesus was born right here in my establishment.” You would want to keep quiet about the fact you already had the VIP suite rented and all you had left was the stable.
The living reality of the Lord Jesus Christ is that He is less interested in our marketing and much more interested in our lives being filled with His presence. The most effective people in the Kingdom of God are those persons who authentically live as if they are consumed with Him. Part of authentic living in Christ is the practicing of His presence in our relationships, our businesses, our attitudes, and our words.
The Lord Jesus is not looking for an inn made with wood and stone, where someone can stop for a night’s lodging. He seeks a life He consumes with His glory.
(3) Shepherds have an odor about them.
If you haven’t heard, sheep that are grazed smell. Don’t think about the sheep that are all gussied up for the county fair or the Christmas pageant. Think about hundreds of these wooly mammals that are pastured on the rough terrain of Israel or the western United States.
The shepherds are fully vested in these critters. They walk with them. They watch them. They sleep with them. Shepherds harvest the wool and the meat from these animals that reek of the elements. Yet these lowly people were the very first to experience the announcement of the Son of God arriving to be the One to save us from the stench of sin.
This reminds us of those precious godly people who have the aroma of forgiveness on their lives because of Jesus. They love Him and they love His Word and they love being with God’s people. The investment of their lives in knowing the Lord Jesus produces a spiritual fragrance that is so pungent, it impacts our lives, and that we know we need a cleansing from the filth of this world.
It begs the question: What is the aroma of our lives? When we leave the presence of people, do they speak of a life transformed by His amazing grace? Is there an aroma of Jesus’ presence lingering in the room?
This is certainly not a comprehensive list of things we might have missed in the Christmas story. As you walk with Jesus this time of year, allow the wonder of His life and kingdom purposes to captivate who you are, and talk about how He has changed you from the inside out.
From all of your state missionaries serving through the MBC, merry Christmas!