From Praying the Names of Jesus Week Three, Day Four
A child was always at the heart of the biblical covenant. Already in the garden of Eden God promised that Eve's offspring would crush the head of the serpent, who beguiled her. Later God made a covenant with Abraham, promising that Sarah would bear him a child who would be the first of countless descendents. Then Isaiah spoke of a child who would be born of a virgin and be given the name "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." The New Testament tells of the fulfillment of that promise, and Jesus presents children as the model for his followers to emulate. The only way to enter the kingdom is with the humility and trust of little children.
Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:4 - 7
Praying the Name
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:4 - 7
Reflect On: >Luke 2:1 - 20.
Praise God: For speaking to us through his Son.
Offer Thanks: For all the ways God has provided for you and your family, materially and spiritually.
Confess: Any failure to value God's Word enough to read it regularly.
Ask God: To nourish you through his Word.
Have you heard the story about the first grader who drew a picture of the nativity in his Sunday school class? After complimenting him on his artistic ability, his teacher inquired about the round figure lurking in the corner of his drawing. Surprised that she hadn't recognized him, the boy responded, "Oh, that's round John Virgin!"
At a distance of two thousand years, it can be easy to get some of the details wrong. How many of us, for instance, picture Mary riding a donkey into Bethlehem? But the Bible never tells us whether Mary walked or rode on an animal. The only donkeys in the story are the ones that populate our crèche sets. And what about the three Magi who worshiped the infant in the stable? The Bible never specifies how many Magi were there, though it does say they presented Jesus with three gifts. But at least we know they worshiped the infant in the stable, right? Sorry! Matthew's Gospel says Jesus was living in a house by the time the Magi arrived in Bethlehem. Some biblical scholars think he may have been a two-year-old by the time they caught up with him.
While none of these details significantly alter the meaning of the story, we sometimes miss details that do. Take the manger, for instance. There's no disputing the fact that the Bible says Mary placed her baby in a feeding trough shortly after his birth. This detail highlights the humble circumstances surrounding his birth. We know that. But how many of us have ever wondered if there's more to it — another reason why God's Son began his life in a feeding trough? Could God have been telegraphing a message, hoping we would understand that Jesus would become a source of nourishment for his people, feeding and sustaining us throughout our lives?
As you read Scripture today remember that Jesus wants to nourish you — to share his life with you. Take time to meditate on what you are reading, asking his Spirit to give you understanding. As you meditate on God's Word, remember that meditation simply means to ponder or to chew on something. Instead of going away hungry, ask God today to help you feed on his Word, to let it satisfy your longings and fill up your empty places.
Two of Ann Spangler's most-loved books have been released in paperback: Praying the Names of God and Praying the Names of Jesus.
These books help us understand the biblical context in which these names and titles were revealed, and help us gain a more intimate knowledge of the Father and of the Son.