During our worship time this morning, my wife, Linda, and I sang a few Christmas carols, one of which was "Joy To the World." I thought about the lyrics we were singing, particularly "let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven an nature sing," and I was led to read the gospel accounts of Jesus' birth. After reading them, I sat and meditated on what I had read.
I've read these passages in Matthew and Luke many times before, but something really stood out to me as I read them today--the reactions, or I should say the response, of the people involved in the story.
First, there were the angels. After the angel messenger appeared to the shepherds to announce the birth of the Savior, Jesus, the sky suddenly filled with a whole army of angels, a heavenly choir, who began lifting their voices in praise (Luke 2:13-14). The hearts of the angels were filled with excitement over the coming of the Savior. That excitement just poured out of their hearts as they sang their praises to God.
Then, after hearing the words spoken to them by the angel messenger and witnessing this heavenly worship service, the hearts of the shepherds were so filled with joy and wonder that they just dropped everything, left their flocks, and hurried (they didn't take a leisurely stroll, they ran!) to Bethlehem so they could actually see what the angel had told them was happening there (Luke 2:15-16). After seeing Jesus, their hearts were filled to overflowing and they told everyone they knew about it and returned to their flocks praising God (Luke 2:17-18, 20).
Mary had the response that only a mother could have. After witnessing the visit of the shepherds and their response to Jesus, Mary quietly tucked all of these things that happened into the scrapbook of her heart, where she treasured them and thought about them in years to come (Luke 2:19).
And, of course, there were also the wise men, the Magi from the east. These men of great wealth and knowledge had studied the prophecies and read the signs in the heavens. Their hearts were filled with desire to see the the child born to be king of the Jews, so they packed up their things and followed the star which led them on their long journey to see Jesus. When they reached Bethlehem and saw the child, they recognized who He was and their hearts filled with reverence. They bowed down and worshiped Him, then presented Him with gifts worthy of a king (Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11).
The Christmas season is a time to reflect on the wonderful gift that God has given us in sending His Son, this tiny baby born in a manger, who would grow up to sacrifice His own life so that we could have eternal life. My prayer, not just for myself, but for us all, is that the joy of Christmas will fill our hearts and that we will open our hearts to prepare Him room. Let our hearts never be like the inn at Bethlehem and have no room for Him.