By: Pastor John Leon, Executive Director
God had waited a long time for the moment. After all, it had already been thousands of years of human history and hundreds of prophecies throughout the ages predicting this momentous event, including one in particular. An extraordinary promise He made to the greatest king in Israel’s monarchy, David… “And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before Me. Your throne shall be established forever (2 Sam. 7:16).” This promise was about a descendant of David, who would inherit his throne, and be revealed over 900 years later.
And now, the wait was over. The plan conceived by the Father, “before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:5),” was ready to be unveiled. Everything about this miraculous moment was ordained by God.
Scripture tells us so… “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman… (Gal. 4:4).” This means, God was not early or late, but at the right time presented His “special gift.”
Everything about the event was precise because God was telling His story. The surroundings would be most inconspicuous, a livestock stable, intentionally hidden from the rulers of Rome and the religious leaders of the day. Such a humble environment would naturally fit the newly born occupant, as well as the heart of his Father. So, this explains why only a privileged few would be invited to view the special birthday scene—three wise men and some shepherds. Therefore, their invitations would be extraordinary. An unusual “sign” in the heavens for the wise men.
And, an angelic visitation for the shepherds… “And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David (Bethlehem) a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger’ (Luke 2:10-12).”
An interesting sign for the shepherds, don’t you think? Swaddling clothes were bands of cloth that would wrap the baby tightly, to give the newborn the effect of the snugness of the womb. And a manger? Well, that was the food trough for the livestock. The shepherds would find a baby in a food trough? Indeed, an unusual sign! But not for His Father. It was all precisely what God ordered. Not too early or too late. A small town, Bethlehem, the birthplace of David, appropriately means, “House of Bread.” And how fitting is that, since the food trough was holding the “Bread of Life!” Subsequently, a self-description Jesus’s Father would later give Him during the last three years of his life, compelling Him to reveal... “I am the bread of life...I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever (John 6:48, 51).”
Who could have possibly synchronized such corresponding details, transcending thousands of years and diverse cultures, to convey such a message that would not only surpass human affairs, but change the course of human history? Only God could make such detailed arrangements thousands of years in advance. Only God could plan such a miraculous arrival for the ages, while ensuring that His Beloved would not only be gift-wrapped in swaddling clothes, but also in obscurity. However, there was one thing God could not avoid for the occasion. God did not want to restrain the joy of His angelic realm from celebrating this special birth. Though the world would not discover the hidden event for some time, God would allow His angelic host to break-out to the shepherds with their own rendition of “Happy Birthday” that glorious night God so enjoyed and had patiently planned to give to the world... “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those whom He is pleased (Luke 2:13-14).”
Now, my friend, who could not celebrate the joy of the greatest gift God has ever given to us, not only this Christmas season, but every day of the year? Therefore, every day we count it a privilege and deep joy to serve those God brings to us, with their broken and devastated lives. Yes, at times there are tears, because one cannot help weeping with those who weep. But we always know the deep joy in giving the only hope we know, to every person we encounter, as we present the incomparable story of God’s greatest gift—His Bread of Life!
My friend, please know you are also an integral part of offering hope to all we encounter at our mission. Without your support, we could not do what we do every day, providing over 85,000 meals and 35,000 bed-nights every year. Certainly, we are grateful for how you have helped sustain this ministry to the lost and broken. Evermore, we are grateful to God for giving to us His greatest gift and miracle, Jesus, His Anointed One! On behalf of our board, may you have a blessed and joyous celebration this Christmas season and New Year!