Friday, December 16, 2011

Men at the Manger!

                It is always fascinating to me that when we talk about the manger we focus only on two groups of men that came through the little door on that special morning - the Shepard’s and the Wise Men.  Of course we know that Mary and the baby Jesus was there.  However,  I believe that we miss some sufficient men that would influence the course of history by their presents that night. Let’s think about a few men that were around that night, or very close there upon. 

The first guy present that night was a man that had already been in the presents of God (the angel of the Lord had visited him), and he has agreed to be the step-father to King of King, Lord of Lords, and the “Great I Am.”  Now,  I don’t know about you but the thought of raising the Son of God would scare me. What if I made a mistake!,  what if I taught him the wrong thing!,  what if he could read my mind (like God can)!, what if something happens to Jesus!, what will God do to me?  Yet, Joseph sat there that night beside Mary, holding her hand, encouraging her, and takes part in the greatest miracle in history up to that time. We don’t know anything about Joseph as a father, beyond Jesus being 12 years old. The scripture is silent about the influence he had. However, I’m sure that it was significant. He held Jesus hands as he learned to walk, encouraged him to say his first word, watched over him playing in the field, helped him learn a trade, and maybe even taught him to read the scripture.  I have to say what a man, having raised two (what I believe) great children, I can only say I hope that can I do a good job.

The Second guy present that night was the Inn Keeper.   Please understand I know that the scripture does not say it was a man but provided the costumes of that time, it is a great possibility that it was. He is often criticized for his actions of not opening a room for Mary, but we don’t know all the details that happened that busy week with the census. I want to believe in my mind that throughout the night he was in and out of the manger, bringing the blankets, water, and maybe even kindling the fire. I’m not sure if there is remorse for not providing more or contentment that he had done all he could. But one thing would be clear, despite the lack of scriptural reference, his life was forever touched that night.

The third (Guys) was a group men that I view as the common man- - a group of shepherds working hard, providing for their families, and taking care of the sheep. As they were working, it says the angel of the Lord appeared and told them about Jesus’ birth.  They came running, they came to see, they came to worship!  Then they went and told everybody they could what they saw and heard that night. Can you image a group of shepherds being invited to the hospital to witness the birth of the Prince Charles or one of the Saudi Royal families? Not only was they invited, they were allowed to see Jesus up close and personal!

The Fourth (Guys) was a group of men that I view as the elite, educated, and of wealth. They traveled hundreds, if not thousands, of miles to see Christ; they came bearing gifts worthy of a king --gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  However, what is amazing to me is that God knew the need and provided the needed resources for a trip to Egypt (to escape the killing spree of Herod).  Think about these men’s arrival in Bethlehem; it would have to rival that of Kings, or even the president. Everybody was talking about these guys. Yet, the scripture says, they came and worshiped the King!

The Fifth guy never saw the baby Jesus.  However, he attempted to change the course of history.  He rejected the legitimacy of Jesus being King of Israel.  Even though, he himself sat on the throne of Israel by appointment of the Roman government, and not birth right.  He was the first person to outright reject the Messiah.  He set out on a mission to stop the Christ from fulfilling the mission that God had set in motion.  He died never seeing the Christ, but would earn a spot as one of the most treacherous men in history all because he missed understanding the significance of Christ Birth.

As I close, I have a question today especially to men, which man/group best represents you?  Is it Herod?, The Wise Men?, The Shepard’s?, The Inn Keeper, or maybe you feel like Joseph? Regardless, understanding that we may not have been at the manger the first Christmas morning, this Christmas morning with it falling on Sunday will we be worshipping him in church --reflecting on the alter (manger), or will we be at the toys’ alter worrying about the batteries or if the clothes we bought fit, or will we just claim he doesn’t exist?

Remember gentleman … Jesus is the only Reason for the Season!!!!