“All those who heard it marveled at what the shepherds told them” (Luke 2:18 MEV).
The word “marvel” means to be filled with wonder and astonishment. Some translations use the word “amazed” instead.
The shepherds’ story would have sounded incredible, especially the part about hearing an angelic choir in the middle of the night, not to mention finding the Son of God in a feeding-trough.
It’s important to understand there are two kinds of amazement. The first has to do with temporary fascination over an unusual turn of events, like the Chicago Cubs finally winning the World Series. Amazing in one sense, but not miraculous.
The second kind of amazement we might call “Holy Wonder.” It’s a kind of awe that comes from seeing God at work in the world. Go all the way back to Genesis and you discover God created the entire universe out of nothing. God speaks, and it happens. He takes a lump of dirt and makes a man. Then he takes a rib and makes a woman. When we read Genesis 1-2, we encounter something truly wonderful, that is, full of wonders on every hand.
The wonders continue to the very end of the Bible. Revelation 19:16 tells us that when Christ returns, he will have written on his robe and on his thigh, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”
When Christ came the first time, the Wise Men brought gifts for the newborn “King of the Jews.” Gold because he was a king, frankincense because he was a priest, and myrrh because he was born to die for the sins of the world. Those “kings” bowed in wonder. One day all the “kings” of the earth will bow before the Lord Jesus Christ. They will be silent before the victorious Son of God.
Christmas is indeed a cause for holy wonder. How can God become a man? How could a king be born in a feeding-trough? How could the world ignore his coming? What sort of God comes into the world like this?
You ought to be amazed at Christmastime. If you manage to go through this season without pausing to think about the wonder of it all, then you have missed the reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place.
Lord, we long to be transformed by the wonder of your coming. Free us from our addiction to the mundane. Give us the faith of a child so we can laugh with joy once again. Amen.
Musical bonus: Here’s a newer Christmas song called He Who Is Mighty by Sovereign Grace.
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