Note: Dr. Lowery first published this unusual meditation on the Christmas story three years ago. It is still as relevant now as it was then–probably because the story itself speaks to us as it did to its original audience some 1,900 years ago. Look for new content on the site beginning the second week of January 2010. Have a blessed Christmas–Michael.
The Christmas story occupies approximately thirty-one verses in Matthew whereas Luke’s devotes seventy-four verses. Because of these verses people have constructed pageants and plays and have composed carols and cards. Poets and preachers along with artists and authors, ancient and modern, continue to stir our hearts.
Many of us have heard the stories of Matthew and Luke so often that perhaps we have become numb to their beauty. On the one hand, perhaps the story needs to be rescued from either the contempt of so-called biblical experts who deny the reliability of Scripture. And on the other hand, perhaps the story needs to be rescued from the sentimentality of people who either follow Jesus or barely know of him.
Year after year, decade after decade, and century after century, the same cast members have been assembled each December: sleepy shepherds and wandering sheep; a wandering star and exotic (three!) wise men; blaring trumpets and singing angels; an expectant mother and waiting husband. This year children of all ages will march across the stage and act out their parts. The same cast members are found in our carols and are beautifully portrayed on cards.
But one little word unites these images and individuals. It is often over-looked and omitted from the newer translations. And yet it appears six times each in Matthew’s and Luke’s renditions: Behold! It serves as either a word of comfort or challenge, exhorting us to lift up our eyes and see the world from a different perspective or encouraging us in hard times.