MY TRIBUTE TO THE BABE OF BETHLEHEM
By: Frank Tunstall
All was ready; the time had come for the prophecies to be fulfilled. Even Caesar Augustus had done his part. The Christ-child was born.
No parties heralded the birth of Israel’s King. None of the pomp and circumstance of such a momentous occasion was present. No one was there to sing, or dance, or play instruments.
Unsuspecting shepherds were watching their sheep on an evening that seemed so normal, even blah. The chill of night was slowly setting in on the rolling hills around Bethlehem.
Only a cattle cave where Mary could deliver the Baby.
Only cold, brown straw on which she could rest.
Only a trough lined with grass in which to lay the Babe of Bethlehem.
God had a plan that would very shortly make the evening memorable in all generations to follow; soon it would be anything but a blah night.
One can easily imagine the invisible angelic host waiting to be made observable as their moment in the drama arrived.
Gabriel appeared to the fearful shepherds and made the historic announcement as the glory of the Lord shined around 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 Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign to you. Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
I picture Gabriel turning after completing this dramatic exultation to that invisible orchestra of angels that in the moment became obvious to the shepherds. Then the carolers were given the nod.
Can you see it? Can you hear it?
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will to men.”
Ah! “peace” and “good will,” as God stepped out of eternity and intervened in history in the birth of a Baby, His Son. Four hundred years of silence had ended. Yes, from His throne in heaven the Father was viewing with delight the dramatic scene.
Did the stars twinkle with a brilliance greater than at any time in the history of the constellations? I think yes. One of them even came down and hung over the place where Baby Jesus lay.
I’ve often wondered if all nature that night turned instinctively toward Bethlehem. Perhaps the sheep and their lambs stirred from their slumber and began to stand; and the birds, especially the doves and pigeons awoke as they perched on the brown branches. Perchance the savage beasts of the wild forgot for a moment their thirst for blood, and the lions that were about to spring on innocent lambs for unknown reasons turned and walked away. Maybe even the serpents crawling through the fields felt sharp, penetrating pain, and the devil remembered with anguish what God had told him in the Garden of Eden.
It certainly is possible Herod’s slumber became troubled in Jerusalem that night but he couldn’t understand why, and even Caesar Augustus in Rome may have felt a strong foreboding that made sleep slip away from him.
We should not marvel that the shepherds said to one another:
“Let us go now 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.”
The leaders of Israel did not recognize the birth of their Messiah and bring their gifts to Him, but the Baby’s heavenly Father had a plan for that too. He touched the hearts of Wise Men from the East. They obeyed and began their long pilgrimage toward Bethlehem, following His star, and p[ersevered until they found the Child and His mother. Kneeling before the infant, they worshipped Him and presented Him their gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. Then they departed for home, carrying with them emotions of enrapturing exuberance: “We have found the Messiah.”
A sad omen was in the air, though. Israel’s religious leaders were not close enough to God to receive notice, as were these foreigners, wise men from the east. Their gifts would pay the bill for Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus during their stay in Egypt. Ah! The detail planning of Jehovah Jireh.
Think about it:
Mary’s Baby never went to college and never wrote a book.
He never had a house that He owned. In fact, He told His disciples, “The foxes have holes and the birds have nests. But the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
The Son of Man from Nazareth never accumulated personal wealth. Rather, He instructed His followers to provide no gold for their journey, nor script for their purses.
Jesus never commanded an army and never met a Caesar.
Even so, I join a host of believers around the world in offering my tribute to this Babe of Bethlehem.
It is true Jesus never wrote a book. He did not need to; His life is our book; He is our Logos, the last and final Word. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John penned His biographies. Peter, Paul, John, James, Luke and Jude explained His doctrines and values for his followers in His church. Even today, the Bible He inspired is the world’s best seller. And the books He has motivated dominate the library shelves around the world.
It is true He never owned a home. Yet, He instituted an order among men in which every person’s heart has the potential to be the house of God: “Your bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit.”
It is true while He lived in the neighborhood of Israel He accumulated no personal wealth. But He owns the cattle on a thousand hills and the wealth in every mine. All gold, all diamonds, all jewels, all oil worldwide belongs to Him. The Psalmist said, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.”
It is true Jesus never traveled over 100 miles from His birthplace. But today His influence has spread the entire 25,000 miles around the world, doing it with such an impact history pivots around Him. Our calendars even date back to Him.
It is true Jesus never met a Roman general or gave orders to an army. Yet, He remains today the greatest commander-in-chief the world will ever know. He is the all-powerful captain of the Lord’s host who has never lost a battle – and never will. His hardest struggle was His trial and crucifixion that included carrying the sins of all mankind, mine and yours, to His cross, and then staying on the cross-beams until He died as a substitute in our place.
Jesus was a general all right, but not with a sword and a spear. His greatest victory was His triumph over death, hell, and the grave, thereby achieving eternal salvation for whosoever will. That triumph made Him the General-among-generals. Marvel of marvels, in doing so He won His reputation as the meek Lamb of God who never held a sword in His hand. His is an eternal, spiritual kingdom set in the hearts of all people who accept Him as the Son of God and are born again. And today, the legions at Jesus’ command include myriads of angels and the millions of the redeemed. His followers are found in every nation, ethnicity, land, and climate.
Indeed! He has brought “peace on earth” and revealed the “good will” of God to the hearts of untold millions!
It is true Jesus never met a Roman Caesar. The closest He ever came to royalty was wicked Herod Antipas and spineless Pilate. But Jesus is no stranger to palaces, throne rooms and oval offices. Presidential seals fit comfortably in His hands. All thrones, principalities, dominions and powers rightly belong to Him. The prophet Daniel said He builds kingdoms and tears them down. Jesus Christ wields just that sovereign power. He knows far more about Trump, Putin, Jinping, and Kim Jong-Un than they know about themselves. In fact, He holds the very breath of potentates in His omnipotent grip.
As Christmas Day 2017 speeds toward us, I open my heart and pay homage to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. “Bring forth the royal diadem and crown Him Lord of all!”
Thank God for the Babe of Bethlehem.
Thank God for the Babe of Bethlehem!
Thank God for the Babe of Bethlehem!
Will you too turn your heart toward Bethlehem this Christmas season?
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.
The stars in the sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.
Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask you to stay,
Close by me forever and love me I pray,
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And take us to heaven to live with thee there.