“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Lessons from the Nativity, by Randall D. Kittle

When I was a child, one of my favorite parts of our Christmas decorating was setting up our nativity set. Though it was small and relatively plain, there was just something about the story of the incarnation that seemed to unfold within me with each piece we put in place. While most of my toys were far more modern and flashy, still something of eternal truth seemed to speak to my heart each and every time we set it up. For me, the nativity set was far more than a decoration. Somehow, as I touched those little figurines, the amazing truth they were designed to reflect seemed to touch me far more deeply than I touched them.

First, we would erect the miniature stable complete with a singular star that stood above it (which was attached to its roof). Then we placed baby Jesus in a manger in the middle. Next, we put Mary and Joseph kneeling right next to the manger and positioned them to be staring intently at the baby. Around them we placed the various animals — some sheep, a cow, and a donkey (but not the camels) — and of course the shepherds, complete with their shepherd staffs. Finally on the very outside we put the camels and the three kings who were kneeling while wearing their crowns and bringing their gifts.

While we had many more elaborate and ornate Christmas decorations, it was this small and simple nativity set that spoke to my heart as a child … and it will still speak to our hearts the eternal truths of God if we will listen with child-like hearts. The three kings bowing down speaks to us that the lofty are humbled by the Gospel of the Kingdom, that all have sinned and fallen short of the kingdom of God and need a Savior, and that
“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). The animals around the Christ-child remind us that all creation obeys Christ’s commands and longs for His return, for He is the Creator of all things. The shepherds who were invited to come and worship the Lord tell us that the Gospel of the Kingdom is for all who will listen. The Kingdom of God is not reserved for the rich and famous. Quite the contrary, it is primarily comprised of the lowly and forgotten. “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Corinthians 1:26–29). Mary and Joseph speak to us the truth that God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Mary and Joseph were entrusted to care for the very presence of God. They had the responsibility to steward and care for the actual incarnate God — God as man — and so has every born-again believer. We bear within us the very presence of God, and because of this, God will use us to do extraordinary things to advance His kingdom. The lowly stable reveals the truth that the King of the Universe, the infinite Creator God, will stoop as low as necessary to draw back into His heart mankind whom He loves. And finally, baby Jesus being in the middle speaks to us the eternal truth that Christ is the center of all things. At the end of the age, everything will be gathered around Jesus Christ; He is the center purpose of God. “… when the times will have reached their fulfillment — to bring all things in heaven and earth together under one head, even Christ” (Ephesians 1:10).

This Christmas season, may you have child-like eyes to see the unchanging and everlasting truths that the King of all creation came and died for you so that you can live with Him. May we live in the light of the revelation of the incarnation.

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