By Henry Rouse
When a baby is born, it’s usually a very exciting time. Family members and close friends want to visit and hold the baby. There are announcements to be made; cards, gifts, and flowers can be given; and sometimes, parties are arranged. In most cultures, it’s a big deal when a child arrives. And each celebration is probably as unique as the child it celebrates.
The birth of Jesus was certainly unique. Joseph found it hard to believe that his fiancé was pregnant and had settled on a quiet separation until the angel appeared (Matthew 1:18–24). He was told to not be afraid and follow through with the marriage because this child was conceived miraculously by the Holy Spirit. This baby was to be named Jesus, the One who would “save his people from their sins.” And He would be known as “Immanuel,” meaning “God is with us.” Yes, this child would be the very presence of God among His people. So Joseph did as the angel asked.
Ending up in Bethlehem, due to the decree of Caesar (Luke 2:1–5), the time came for Mary to give birth. There’s no mention of family, or flowers, or public announcements, not even a private bed in a hospital nursery. But the birth of this child certainly didn’t go unnoticed.
The angels of heaven announced His arrival. In the fields outside Bethlehem, the sky lit up as angels proclaimed the news to a group of ordinary shepherds. Your Savior has been born! In the city of David, the Messiah has arrived! Glory to God (vv.8–14)!
The shepherds rushed to see this baby and found everything just as the angels had said (vv.15–20). They went from terrified to amazed and “returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had seen and heard.” Something incredible had certainly taken place, and while “all who heard it were amazed…, Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them.”
Eight days later, Mary and Joseph brought their newborn son to the temple for circumcision and to give sacrifices to God for their firstborn. Simeon was there—a man who had been anticipating the arrival of the Messiah for so long. When he saw Jesus, it all became so clear. This One was the Messiah, the salvation of God, revelation for the Gentiles, and glory to Israel (Luke 2:25–35). And Anna, the prophetess, also recognized who this child was—“the redemption of Israel” (v.38).
So much greatness wrapped up in the smallness and fragility of a baby. The presence of God among His people, Immanuel. Savior, Messiah, redemption, revelation. It’s no wonder the angels made the announcement. No herald on Earth would have been worthy to proclaim, “Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (v.11). And we say, “Glory to God in the highest heaven” (v.14).