An Advent Devotional by Stan Key
A star appeared to guide the wise men (Matthew 2:1-12). Angels filled the night's sky to proclaim the news to shepherds (Luke 2:8-15). The Holy Spirit filled Simeon so he could see who this baby really was (Luke 2:25-35). The truth is, we all need divine assistance if we are to grasp the real meaning of Christmas.
As signposts on a highway help drivers find their way, so God has given “signs” to help honest seekers discern the real meaning of Jesus’ arrival. Specifically, the Bible mentions three:
The supernatural sign. "The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (God with us)" (Isaiah 7:14). Though the birth of Jesus resembled all other human births, His conception was in a category all alone! Mary was His mother but Joseph was not His biological father. The angel Gabriel explained it to Mary this way: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Christmas will never be understood by those who want to dismiss the miraculous element from the story.
The natural sign. "This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger" (Luke 2:12). Christmas is not just about divine displays of supernatural power. The second sign reminds us of the common, mundane circumstances of His birth. One hardly expects to find the Son of God in a barn, lying in a feeding trough! To understand the true meaning of Christmas we must be sure that the story includes not only angels, stars and miracles but also smelly cow stables, ordinary shepherds and an evil tyrant on the throne. It is only as He comes into the messiness and sin of our world that he can save us from it.
The warning sign. Simeon said to Mary, “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against. So that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed” (Luke 2:12). The third sign reminds us that this baby will provoke division. Some will bow to Him as Savior and King. Others will refuse to believe in Him and reject Him as a fraud.
The coming of Jesus brings a sword of division that separates light from darkness, faith from unbelief, truth from falsehood, and sheep from goats. His coming, like light, reveals what is in our hearts.
Thank God for the signs of Christmas. If you feel lost and confused this holiday season, just follow the signs. God will lead you to the Truth. And the Truth will set you free!