DAY TWO: GLORY IN PLAIN SIGHT
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep, the Jewish people were enduring yet another year of disappointments and hardships. Had God abandoned them? Did He care? How would they make it through?
It was time to ponder the past and catalogue the loss. For hundreds of years, the glory of God had been the visible manifestation of His affection for them, the North Star guiding their steps in the wilderness, and then firmly established in Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. Its departure had long ago led to captivity in Babylon, and a life of bare-bones survival under Roman occupation. And so it was, on that cold winter’s night that was so deep, that the people of Israel remained bereft of hope. Has this year brought bitter darkness to you, too? Does it feel like God’s glory left your side? If so, take courage: the glory of God shines brightest against the dark backdrop of deepest night.
You see, God had not given up on His people. Christmas had come. Luke 2:9 tells us, “the glory of the Lord shone around [the shepherds], and they were terrified.” This is the first mention of the presence of God’s glory since its fateful departure. The glory had returned.
Following the angel’s custom-made directions (see day 1), the shepherds found the Lamb of God under the shadow of Eder in Bethlehem. They saw the baby and worshipped (Luke 2:16-20). For a moment, the veil of flesh was pulled back, and they beheld the glory of God. They tasted and saw that the Lord was good (Psalm 34:8). That same baby later pulled back the veil of flesh at the Transfiguration, where Peter, James, and John saw the revealed glory of the One and Only Son of the Most High God (Matthew 17:1-2). That baby was cloaked in flesh, hiding the glory in plain sight—for a season.
The glory of God had returned to the abode of man. Behold Christ, the God-Man born in Eder.
In unprecedented though prophesied measure, God became man. He clothed Himself in human skin and hid among the ones He had come to serve in indescribable love. As He shared their commonplace life and their ordinary struggles, He nurtured their occasional glimpses into the delights of His glory. He still joins His story to the lives of men today: where is the glory of God hiding in plain sight in your life? Where is Christ awaiting to disclose the wonders of His glory? Where is He poised to pull back the veil of darkness, so the glory may shine through?
It takes God’s invitation for our lives to join His story. The angels invited the shepherds. And now, the Lamb of Eder invites you. This Christmas, He beckons you to taste a fresh flavor explosion in your spiritual experience of the spice of the gospel. You see, the shepherds became an essential part of the flavors they tasted that night (Luke 2:20). After they tasted the spice of the gospel for themselves, they then spread its spice everywhere they went. Luke probably interviewed them, decades later, as he was compiling information to write his gospel. They were still spreading the aroma of that Christmas night.
As Christ invites you deeper into the Christmas story, invite God to become an increasingly essential part of your life. Will you taste the spices of Christmas and then spread them everywhere you go?