I have always loved Nativity Scenes. There is just something so wondrous and even mysterious them – all of them. At my house, we have several – a small porcelin one that fits on an end table; a cheap plastic one that has been played with (and chewed on) by small children; and, of course, the mantle-piece set, which has intricately-painted figureines. Over the years, that particular set has suffered a few casulaties – most recently, Joseph tumbled from the stable and shattered into tiny pieces. But no matter – the show must go on. These days, a shepherd stands in for Joseph beside the manger . . . and somehow, the majesty and mystery of theIncarnation remains.
It is mysterious, you know. I don’t know if you have taken time to ponder it lately – to sit and stare at the pieces in a good nativity set – but it is absolutely mind-boggling how it all came together. That’s why some of the best Christmas songs ever written convey a sense of wonder and marvel and . . . awe. Think about the lyrics to What Child is This?; O Little Town of Bethlehem ; O Come Emmanuel; Mary Did You? Each one, in my opinion, captures the proper tone of the story – the feeling that this is something that’s just too big for us to understand . . . even though we try to shrink it into nativity-sized bites.
Case in point – I ran across this old sermon (dated 1978) by John McArthur. It is a thorough and interesting look at three of the most misunderstood figures in the Nativity Set – the three Wise Men. So much that we assume about these men comes from tradition or legend, but their real story, and their real purpose for arriving in Bethelehm – (not on Jesus’ birthday, but MUCH, MUCH later) – is so much richer and more significant than we acknowledge. These men were king-makers – and their arrival at lodging of Baby Jesus is more than just a neat picture of giving Christmas gifts. It is a profound picture of a God who takes care of all of the details . . . even the ones you might not have thought of!
I hope you will take some time to click this link. Once you do, you can read the entire sermon . . . or listen to it.