The account of the birth of Jesus is found in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke. Matthew records the story of the Wise Men and Luke the story of the Shepherds. The two accounts present a wonderful contrast. The wisemen were men of great wealth. They had all that money could afford. The shepherds were common men. They were simple working people. While the former brought valuable gifts to the Christ child, the latter brought only their praise and worship.
There is a valuable lesson to be learned from these two accounts. It does not matter what your economic situation is; it does not matter what race you are; it does not matter what nationality you are; nor does it matter what part of the world you are from. Christmas is for everyone who is willing to stand in amazement at the birth of the Christ.
To really appreciate the full meaning of Christmas, it is important that one looks beyond the tiny stable in Bethlehem. As we gaze at the tiny baby in the manger, we need to look beyond to the city of Jerusalem and to a hill called Calvary. For it is to Calvary that this baby will go when He has grown to be a man. It was at Calvary that He would fulfill His purpose for coming. At Calvary, He would die for the sins of the world. He alone could do such a thing, because He led a perfect life. He would be the perfect sacrifice for the sins of man.
His death on the Cross did not complete the full story of Christmas. We need to look farther to the empty tomb. It is the empty tomb that placed a stamp of validation upon all the claims that Christ had made. It is His resurrection that finalizes His victory over death. It was His resurrection that provided the blessed hope that belongs to all those who place their trust in Him.
As we continue to gaze at the manger, we need to see another beautiful scene. We need to see to see the group of His followers that watched in wonder as He ascended into the heavens to take His rightful place with the Father. As we observe the scene we need to hear and to believe the words that the angels spoke, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11 NASB)
When we are able to see this full picture, while we are concentrating on the cradle, we will experience the full meaning of this wonderful birth that took place so long ago. My prayer is that we all will see beyond the manger and will see the entire story. For this story in its entirety is the hope for all mankind.