Unto You a Saviour
[This chapter is based on Luke 2:1-20.]
The King of glory stooped low to take humanity. Rude and forbidding
were His earthly surroundings. His glory was veiled, that the majesty of
His outward form might not become an object of attraction. He shunned
all outward display. Riches, worldly honor, and human greatness can
never save a soul from death; Jesus purposed that no attraction of an
earthly nature should call men to His side. Only the beauty of heavenly
truth must draw those who would follow Him. The character of the Messiah
had long been foretold in prophecy, and He desired men to accept Him
upon the testimony of the word of God.
The angels had wondered at the glorious plan of redemption. They
watched to see how the people of God would receive His Son, clothed in
the garb of humanity. Angels came to the land of the chosen people.
Other nations were dealing in fables and worshiping false gods. To the
land where the glory of God had been revealed, and the light of prophecy
had shone, the angels came. They came unseen to Jerusalem, to the
appointed expositors of the Sacred Oracles, and the ministers of God's
house. Already to Zacharias the priest, as he ministered before the
altar, the nearness of Christ's coming had been announced. Already the
forerunner was born, his mission attested by miracle and prophecy. The
tidings of his birth and the wonderful significance of his mission had
been spread abroad. Yet Jerusalem was not preparing to welcome her
With amazement the heavenly messengers beheld the indifference of
that people whom God had called to communicate to the world the light of
sacred truth. The Jewish nation had been preserved as a witness that
Christ was to be born of the seed of Abraham and of David's line; yet
they knew not that His coming was now at hand. In the temple the morning
and the evening sacrifice daily pointed to the Lamb of God; yet even
here was no preparation to receive Him. The priests and teachers of the
nation knew not that the greatest event of the ages was about to take
place. They rehearsed their meaningless prayers, and performed the rites
of worship to be seen by men, but in their strife for riches and worldly
honor they were not prepared for the revelation of the Messiah. The same
indifference pervaded the land of Israel. Hearts selfish and
world-engrossed were untouched by the joy that thrilled all heaven. Only
a few were longing to behold the Unseen. To these heaven's embassy was
Angels attend Joseph and Mary as they journey from their home in
Nazareth to the city of David. The decree of imperial Rome for the
enrollment of the peoples of her vast dominion has extended to the
dwellers among the hills of Galilee. As in old time Cyrus was called to
the throne of the world's empire that he might set free the captives of
the Lord, so Caesar Augustus is made the agent for the fulfillment of
God's purpose in bringing the mother of Jesus to Bethlehem. She is of
the lineage of David, and the Son of David must be born in David's city.
Out of Bethlehem, said the prophet, "shall He come forth . . . that
is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from
the days of eternity." Micah 5:2, margin. But in the city of their
royal line, Joseph and Mary are unrecognized and unhonored. Weary and
homeless, they traverse the entire length of the narrow street, from the
gate of the city to the eastern extremity of the town, vainly seeking a
resting place for the night. There is no room for them at the crowded
inn. In a rude building where the beasts are sheltered, they at last
find refuge, and here the Redeemer of the world is born.
Men know it not, but the tidings fill heaven with rejoicing. With a
deeper and more tender interest the holy beings from the world of light
are drawn to the earth. The whole world is brighter for His presence.
Above the hills of Bethlehem are gathered an innumerable throng of
angels. They wait the signal to declare the glad news to the world. Had
the leaders in Israel been true to their trust, they might have shared
the joy of heralding the birth of Jesus. But now they are passed by.
God declares, "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and
floods upon the dry ground." "Unto the upright there ariseth
light in the darkness." Isa. 44:3; Ps. 112:4. To those who are
seeking for light, and who accept it with gladness, the bright rays from
the throne of God will shine.
In the fields where the boy David had led his flock, shepherds were
still keeping watch by night. Through the silent hours they talked
together of the promised Saviour, and prayed for the coming of the King
to David's throne. "And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them,
and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore
afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you
good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is
born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the
At these words, visions of glory fill the minds of the listening
shepherds. The Deliverer has come to Israel! Power, exaltation, triumph,
are associated with His coming. But the angel must prepare them to
recognize their Saviour in poverty and humiliation. "This shall be
a sign unto you," he says; "Ye shall find the babe wrapped in
swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."
The heavenly messenger had quieted their fears. He had told them how
to find Jesus. With tender regard for their human weakness, he had given
them time to become accustomed to the divine radiance. Then the joy and
glory could no longer be hidden. The whole plain was lighted up with the
bright shining of the hosts of God. Earth was hushed, and heaven stooped
to listen to the song,--
"Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, good will toward men."
Oh that today the human family could recognize that song! The
declaration then made, the note then struck, will swell to the close of
time, and resound to the ends of the earth. When the Sun of
Righteousness shall arise, with healing in His wings, that song will be
re-echoed by the voice of a great multitude, as the voice of many
waters, saying, "Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."
As the angels disappeared, the light faded away, and the shadows of
night once more fell on the hills of Bethlehem. But the brightest
picture ever beheld by human eyes remained in the memory of the
shepherds. "And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from
them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even
unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord
hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and
Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger."
Departing with great joy, they made known the things they had seen
and heard. "And all they that heard it wondered at those things
which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things,
and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying
and praising God."
Heaven and earth are no wider apart today than when shepherds
listened to the angels' song. Humanity is still as much the object of
heaven's solicitude as when common men of common occupations met angels
at noonday, and talked with the heavenly messengers in the vineyards and
the fields. To us in the common walks of life, heaven may be very near.
Angels from the courts above will attend the steps of those who come and
go at God's command.
The story of Bethlehem is an exhaustless theme. In it is hidden
"the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of
God." Rom. 11:33. We marvel at the Saviour's sacrifice in
exchanging the throne of heaven for the manger, and the companionship of
adoring angels for the beasts of the stall. Human pride and
self-sufficiency stand rebuked in His presence. Yet this was but the
beginning of His wonderful condescension. It would have been an almost
infinite humiliation for the Son of God to take man's nature, even when
Adam stood in his innocence in Eden. But Jesus accepted humanity when
the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin. Like every
child of Adam He accepted the results of the working of the great law of
heredity. What these results were is shown in the history of His earthly
ancestors. He came with such a heredity to share our sorrows and
temptations, and to give us the example of a sinless life.
Satan in heaven had hated Christ for His position in the courts of
God. He hated Him the more when he himself was dethroned. He hated Him
who pledged Himself to redeem a race of sinners. Yet into the world
where Satan claimed dominion God permitted His Son to come, a helpless
babe, subject to the weakness of humanity. He permitted Him to meet
life's peril in common with every human soul, to fight the battle as
every child of humanity must fight it, at the risk of failure and
The heart of the human father yearns over his son. He looks into the
face of his little child, and trembles at the thought of life's peril.
He longs to shield his dear one from Satan's power, to hold him back
from temptation and conflict. To meet a bitterer conflict and a more
fearful risk, God gave His only-begotten Son, that the path of life
might be made sure for our little ones. "Herein is love."
Wonder, O heavens! and be astonished, O earth!
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