Twelve tribes. A nation of tribes, but only one chosen. Judah.
A huge tribe, but only one descendant chosen, David.
A large clan, but only one chosen…
The rhythmic groans followed by short gasps came in shorter and shorter intervals.
“It’s… time, Joseph!”, she ground out, “get something clean!”
Joseph hurriedly put a clean cloth beneath her. He was near panic. With his other sons, he had been far outside, banished by the midwife. Now, there was no one.
“It’s coming!”, Joseph announced suddenly,”It’s coming!” And Mary began to push. As waves of pain washed over her, a scream began to build in the bottom of her lungs. Low and growing higher, soft and growing louder.
Her scream racketed against the stone walls of the cave. She screamed long. She screamed from the ripping pain in her young body. She screamed in fear for the safety of the Life within her. She screamed in anger at bringing this Life into such a filthy place, into such a filthy world. She screamed loud. She screamed with joy that the Life would soon be hers to touch, to hold, to love. She screamed in exultation at the honor of carrying such a life. And, finally, she screamed in victory as the Life finally slipped from her and into Joseph’s hands.
A sudden and anticlimactic hush fell over the cave. Time seemed to stand still as Mary hushed, Joseph froze, and the baby lay still. It seemed that the entire world shuddered to a stop and waited, waited for Life.
A thin cry escaped from the bluish lips of the tiny baby. Slowly, Joseph lifted the baby heavenward. Great drops of blood fell from his hands and feet and stained Mary’s robe. Joseph looked down, amazed at the shadow formed by the baby’s outstretched arms on Mary’s belly, the shadow of a Roman cross! Unworthiness filling his heart, he lifted the little one even higher and shouted, “Father, into thy hands!”
Suddenly, a blinding, blue-white light fills the cave and the hills around Bethlehem. The energy release from a thousand angels lighting up at the same time caused the air to compress and, BOOM! CRASH! The shock wave knocked shepherds off their feet and stampeded their flocks. It echoed and re-echoed off the hilltops until the ground shook beneath them. Then, before the rumbling completely stopped, another sound started softly, then grew until it filled the air.
A thousand voices, singing so many parts that it seemed the whole spectrum of human hearing was covered! They sang loud! They sang, rejoicing at the birth of the newborn Son. They sang to honor the gift of Himself their Commander had given. They sang long. They sang glory to God the Father who gave His Son. They sang in sheer amazement and wonder at the love of Father and Son. They sang to please Mary and Joseph for nine month journey of faith. And they sang with pure joy for being allowed a part in this celebration, a celebration of the love of the Creator for his created.
Dawn was still hours away as Mary lay holding her new Baby so close. She looked down and her eyes widened at the sight of her perfect Son, covered in blood and birth, cord still connecting. Joseph knelt at her side, the sharp knife forgotten and dropped in the hay. He still stared at the open stable door where the light still glowed and the sound still entered to fill his ears.
And so a plan became Life that night. A plan laid before the world was. A plan drawn by a Father for His wayward children. A plan where His Son, his only Son, would eagerly lay down his life to prove His Father’s love and His love. The greatest story is not that of a virgin and her husband, but that of a loving Father, giving everything, even to death, to bring His children home. A story filled with perfect God and rebellious children, shining stars and crushing shame, filled with blood and with blessing, filled with power and with pain, with obedience and joy and rejection and deceit. The Father’s love story.
Immanuel, God with us. God became man. And just as He lived in Mary so long ago, so He will live in you and in me if we let Him. Not forcing, but loving us into loving Him back, healing and changing us from the inside out to look more like Him. What a gift! What an amazing grace gift! It’s yours! Open it!