The Christmas Servant
At Christmas, many of us feel tremendously cozy as we think about the familiar Nativity story. Filled with all kinds of sentimentalism, it is entirely possible for us to completely disengage from the whole panorama of God’s purpose: to allow familiarity with the scene to blind us to the awe-inspiring truth that as we look at the baby in a Bethlehem manger, we are looking in on the Servant of God.
This Servant, Jesus, had a mission. Even Mary and Joseph had only an inkling about all He would accomplish—yet hundreds of years before Jesus arrived, God had announced what He would do to fulfill His purpose (Isaiah 42:1-4).
Jesus came to open the eyes of the spiritually blind. During His earthly ministry, He gave a wonderful illustration of this by granting physical healing to the blind. The greatest issue, however, concerned not the body but the soul. He came to open the eyes of men and women who were blind to God’s truth.
The Servant also came to free captives from prison. Many of us have felt the captivity of our guilt, trying countless hoped-for solutions to wash it all away. But nothing works except Jesus. He breaks our chains and sets us free. Once slaves of sin, we have now been rescued. Our Savior releases from the dungeon those who sit in darkness, if only they see His light.
The story of the Servant is a story not about what we must do but about what Jesus has done. He came down into the dungeon, into our enslavement, into our blindness, and said, You’ve failed and broken the law, and you are entirely unable to rectify your condition. But I save sinners. I open blind eyes. I release captives. I bring light. I have done everything required for you. Turn to Me in simple faith and childlike trust and you will see. You will be free, and your darkness will give way to sunshine.
The one who has done all this is the one you are gazing at as you consider that familiar Nativity scene. Never let it fail to move and inspire you to praise and worship of the divine Son, who came as our Servant.
Birth of Jesus Foretold
26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27to a virgin betrothed2 to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”3 29But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
34And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”4
35And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born5 will be called holy—the Son of God. 36And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant6 of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Mary Visits Elizabeth
39In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would be7 a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
Mary's Song of Praise: The Magnificat
46And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
56And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.
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