We've had several days of receiving, haven't we? Not only have we received gifts, but also food and friendship, fun and memories. I do hope you had a lovely Christmas, and the gifts under your tree brought joy to your heart. We are in Spain still waiting to share Christmas with our family here as our suitcase of gifts went missing on the flight. It has been found and what a fun time we will have once it catches up with us! The kids can barely wait. Watching their joy reminds me it is more blessed to give than receive.
As we finish out the year, we have been considering the believing of Mary and the obedience of Joseph. Today, I want us to take time to look at those in the Christmas story who received.
Elizabeth, Mary, and Joseph received direct commands from an angel. God speaking purposefully into their lives meant their paths were forever altered and what they received opened the door for eternal life through this promised Messiah.
The Shepherds also received Good News from a host of angels. Imagine the night sky lit up with a choir of heavenly beings singing and praising God. It would certainly catch your attention, don't you think? These shepherds were getting on with their job, settling the sheep, and preparing for a night in the open when the announcement came. And what did they do? They came with haste and found the baby just as the angels proclaimed. They received the blessing of being the first ones to visit the baby Jesus.
The Wise Men also received a blessing as they made their way across the desert following a star that led them to the Messiah. There, they presented gifts fit for a king and received direction from God to depart another way. They went home with a blessing.
Simon and Anna received the answer to their prayers as they met Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus in the temple. They had long awaited the promised Messiah, and God gave them confirmation. What a blessing when our prayers are answered and our faith is rewarded.
You can probably think of other ways people received things in the Christmas story. I also think of King Herod. He received something, too. He received word that a king was born, but he did not want to receive that message. So he determined to stomp it out and, through his violence, missed the blessing.
The story of the nativity is an invitation to receive. The Messiah has come, this one for whom the Jewish nation anticipated. And what did they do with him? They, like Herod, rejected him. He hadn't come as they thought - to conquer and put them back in power. Instead, he came as a baby born in a lowly manger, then, entering the city on a donkey, humble and meek.
We, too, make the same mistake if we aren't careful. We hear the news of the Saviour, know the story, and yet, miss the blessing. Why do I say that? Well, like I said, the nativity story is an invitation to receive. Christ came to save. That is precisely what the angel told Joseph.
Matthew 1:21 "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins."
This is the gift offered by Christ - forgiveness from your sins. But knowing the story isn't enough. You must receive the gift. That means bowing your heart in humble repentance to the King of Kings and giving Him the right to be Lord of your life. That is the invitation of Christ. And when you do, you receive the blessing - forgiveness and eternal life.
It is my prayer today that you have already received the gift of salvation. And if you haven't, I pray you will take time to thoughtfully consider receiving Christ as your Saviour. Blessed are they who receive.