What child is this, who laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping?
As we made our way through the Advent season this year, it occurred to me that Mary, Joseph, the wise men, the shepherds, Simeon, and Anna all had one thing in common. They all knew that this baby born to Mary was no ordinary baby, they all knew that he was Christ the King. But how did they know?
Did they know the prophecies of the Bible better than Israel’s religious scholars? Did they have some inner hunch? Did they see a halo around his head that others missed?
There were a number of other baby boys in the town around that time, how did anyone know that Jesus was different? There must have been other shepherds out in fields that night, how come they didn’t come to see this special child? There were other travelers making their way towards Jerusalem, how come they didn’t end up on their knees worshiping this child?
Many people saw this child and came away unaffected, unmoved, and unaware that they were gazing at the Son of God “veiled in flesh.” Why? The simple truth is this, they could not properly interpret what they were seeing without being assisted by God. The only way they could truly understand what was right under their noses was with insight and explanation from God.
Mary and Joseph knew because an angel told them. The wise men followed a star, and possibly ancient prophecies from Daniel (Daniel 2; 4; 7:13-28) and Balaam (Numbers 24:17). The shepherds got their information from an angel accompanied by a heavenly choir. Later, Luke, and especially Matthew, would put the spotlight on this baby in Mary’s lap, explaining how he is the Christ who comes in fulfillment of Scripture.
We find ourselves in the same position today as all these people we’ve just mentioned. The simple truth is that we cannot properly interpret what we are seeing without being assisted by God. We can’t understand who Jesus is without being guided into that understanding through the Scriptures and by the power of the Holy Spirit. This isn’t just true for our understanding of Jesus, but for all of life. There is no way to properly understand work, coronavirus, family, football, the United States, social media, or anything else without being guided by the wisdom and light and truth that comes to us through God’s Word. God has spoken to us decisively in his inerrant, inspired book we call the Bible.
With that in mind, what is your plan to regularly read and pray over God’s Word this year? Having a plan for what to read in your Bible is a good place to start unraveling the complexities of the world with the assistance of God. You can create your own plan, or use one that’s already been developed. Here’s a Bible reading plan that I’ve found so helpful, I’ve been using it for more than 20 years. May God give us grace and help to attach ourselves to His Word this year like a barnacle attaches itself to a rock in a tide pool.