Who would have thought the Messiah would be for the pagans, too? Yet, this is a part of the Christmas story.
I am an old woman who has seen much. I’ve lived a long life and witnessed many things. Now my time is short, and I want to tell my story while I still can.
I listened to the Apostle Peter’s preaching on the Day of Pentecost, and the Holy Spirit came down. Thousands believed in Jesus, and I was one of them. My husband was also. The power of God manifested itself in such a way that we understood foreigners who spoke in a different language.
I also heard the Apostle Paul spread God’s Word to everyone who would listen. Paul, Peter, and many other church leaders preached about how Jesus had been crucified and resurrected. They witnessed even though they were persecuted.
Now Peter and Paul are dead. They lost their lives because of their love for God and His Son, Jesus. Reports say Peter was crucified upside down on a cross because he didn’t want to be crucified like Jesus.
But enough of that. This old lady is putting the cart before the donkey.
I grew up in the town of Bethlehem, the daughter of a shepherd. My father was one of those who guarded the sheep reserved for Temple sacrifice. These sheep were kept in the fields surrounding Bethlehem during the year. I occasionally carried meals or refreshments to my father while he watched the sheep, and he usually let me stay for a while to play with the lambs. I dreamed about staying overnight with him in the fields. Mother said I was too little. I might get in the way.
When I was nine, my parents finally consented for me to stay overnight. “After all,” Father pointed out, “our house can be seen from the hillside.”
“This one time,” Mother said, “and then she will need to learn how to be a young lady and quit romping on the hillsides as the boys do.”
The long-anticipated night finally arrived, and I settled down near the campfire. Too excited to sleep, I snuggled beneath my warm blanket with my favorite lamb nestled at my feet. Lying on my back, I gazed at the heavens and wondered about the great God who lives there.
“Does He really know me as Mother says?” I wondered aloud.
I noticed one star that seemed brighter than the others. I looked away and back again, but it still looked brighter, so I pointed it out to Father. Unexpectedly, it grew even brighter. It seemed to descend, and it looked as if it shined over Bethlehem. Before long, this star captured the attention of all the shepherds.
Suddenly, an angel approached our campfire. We were terrified. Several shepherds sank to the ground and covered their heads. I tried to hide behind Father and leaned around him, peering through my fingers.
“Fear not,” the angel said.
When the angel spoke, our fear melted away. Peace fell on us. I kept rubbing my eyes, wondering if I was dreaming—but this was no dream. The angel was real. He told us the heavenly host was bringing us good news of great joy for all people.
The angel told my father and the other shepherds the good news that the Messiah had been born on this day in our town, and that we would find Him wrapped in rags and lying in a manger. I was astonished. Could this be the Messiah our people had waited for? But why was He born in a stable, and, of all places, in a feeding trough?
“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”~Luke 2:10b-11 NKJV
Suddenly, more angels appeared–praising God and singing. Father and the other shepherds joined in their worship. There were so many angels I could not count them.
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, goodwill toward men.”~Luke 2:13-14 NKJV
One of the angels knelt beside me and asked why I was so quiet in the middle of the joyful celebration. I said, “Is the Messiah really for all people like you say, even the Gentiles?”
“Yes, child,” the angel replied. “For everyone who believes in Him, He will make clean and forgive their sins and provide a safe place for them, even throughout eternity.”
The angels left as suddenly as they had arrived, and all the shepherds spoke loudly about the wondrous things we had seen and heard.
“Let us go into town and see this thing that has come to pass,” they said.
The shepherds agreed that half of them would go right then to see the baby, and the other half would go later. Father was one of the first ones to go. He carried me on his shoulders so I wouldn’t get trampled in the rush to get there.
How can I describe what I felt when I saw that tiny Baby? Even if I hadn’t known I looked at the Son of the Highest God, I would have known something was special about Him.
Now, Jews and Gentiles are responding to the good news and becoming followers of that same Jesus I saw in the Bethlehem stable so many years ago. And what the angel told me is true. God did become human to draw all people to Himself.
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”~Romans 10:12 NKJV
Those same baby hands which were so sweetly dimpled on the night of His birth were the same hands that were nailed to the cross on the hill of Golgotha. I was there. I saw Him die on that cross to forgive me and you for our sins. But He did not stay dead. He is alive. And because He lives, we can too.
If you have not asked Jesus to be your Savior, invite Him into your heart today.
Lord Jesus, thank You for leaving Your heavenly home and coming to earth as the infant Babe in the manger so that I could believe in You. Thank You for dying on the cross and rising from the dead to forgive my sins. I invite You into my heart this day. I make You my Lord, my Savior, and my soon-coming King. Amen.
Genre: Creative Non-fiction
Copyright 2020: A Christmas Story: Evelyn Mason Wells: All Rights Reserved
Published: December 2016: Refresh Bible Study Magazine: Editor Katie Kauffman: Editor-in-Chief Beebe Kauffman