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Christmas part 2: the witnesses...

Lately, I have been contemplating the Christmas story quite a lot more than I have in the past. What is the most inspiring part? What does a "trough" really look like? Why Mary? Why Joseph? Why, Why, Why...and every time, my mind continually shifts to those who witnessed this miracle, this redemption for all mankind in a "trough", those who witnessed love coming down to rescue us, those who witnessed the "Dawn from on shine on those who live in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace" (Zechariah, Luke 1:78-79).

From Elizabeth's womb jumping for joy when Mary approached, to Zechariah being filled with the Holy Spirit prior to His birth announcing His arrival, to the shepards who were the first to be told about the birth of a baby boy, to the animals, His own creation, bearing witness to the birth of their Creator. It's fascinating. It's enthralling. Especially the shepards.

They were the outcasts of society, the lowest wrung, the ones who would be "outside the camp" in the Old Testament. Yet, they were chosen to have an angel of the Lord stand before them, to see the glory of the Lord shining around them, to hear the announcement from the multitude of heavenly host praising God. They were the lowly of the lowlies and they would recognize Jesus and rejoice while the most powerful of the powerful would put him to death.

These shepards were "from the same region"...they were close, very close to Bethlehem. This place, some scholars believe, was called Migdal Eder or Tower of the Flocks. These flocks that were being watched over weren't just any flocks. They were the flocks destined for the temple sacrifices. They were the ones whom the spotless, without blemish, the perfect ones would be bred and chosen and given as an offering. It was the place that was prophesied by Micah (4:8) as a promised blessing that would come. It was of no coincidence that the shepards were faced with an announcement of what would become the ultimate sacrifice - the ultimate perfection - the ultimate lamb that would be slaughtered. Jesus. Jesus was His name. The text says that they hurried and they found them and they witnessed this baby laying there, just born. The first witnesses from the outside looking in, at the Lamb that would bring them from the outside - in.

As I sat today, and meditated on the Christmas story, I couldn't help but be overwhelmed that in all my studies and all my noticings, I failed to notice the single, greatest, witness. You. Me. We might not have been there on that one special night in the manger, but oh how He longs for us to recognize that in fact, we are His greatest witness to not only His birth, but His life and His death. Our lives are a witness that a Redeemer and King came and paid the penalty for every sin - this baby boy took ourselves as outcasts and threw us into His grace and neverending love from a "trough". This baby boy came to set us free...a beautiful story of love that came down. And that friends, is the most prize possession of all - a witness to something far greater than anyone could have ever imagined following a birth in a manger.

"You are My witnesses...and My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. No god was formed before Me, and there will be none after Me." Isaiah 43:10

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8


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