Read an Excerpt
IT BEGAN IN A MANGER
It all happened in a most remarkable moment ... a moment like no other. For through that segment of time a spectacular thing occurred.
God became a man. Divinity arrived. Heaven opened herself and placed her most precious one in a human womb.
The omnipotent, in one instant, became flesh and blood. The one who was larger than the universe became a microscopic embryo. And he who sustains the world with a word chose to be dependent upon the nourishment of a young girl.
God had come near.
He came, not as a flash of light or as an unapproachable conqueror, but as one whose first cries were heard by a peasant girl and a sleepy carpenter. Mary and Joseph were anything but royal. Yet heaven entrusted its greatest treasure to these simple parents. It began in a manger, this momentous moment in time. He looked anything but a king. His face, prunish and red. His cry, still the helpless and piercing cry of a dependent baby.
Majesty in the midst of the mundane. Holiness in the filth of sheep manure and sweat. This baby had overseen the universe. These rags keeping him warm were the robes of eternity. His golden throne room had been abandoned in favor of a dirty sheep pen. And worshiping angels had been replaced with kind but bewildered shepherds.
Curious, this royal throne room. No tapestries covering the windows. No velvet garments on the courtiers. No golden scepter or glittering crown. Curious, the sounds in the court.Cows munching, hooves crunching, a mother humming, a babe nursing.
It could have begun anywhere, the story of the king. But, curiously, it began in a manger. Step into the doorway, peek through the window.
He is here!
A DAY FOR
It was time for Jesus to leave. The carpentry shop had been his home, his refuge. He had come to say good-bye, to smell the sawdust and lumber just one more time.
Life was peaceful here. Life was so safe. Here he had spent countless hours of contentment. On this dirt floor he had played as a toddler while his father worked. Here Joseph had taught him how to grip a hammer. And on this workbench he had built his first chair.
It was here that his human hands shaped the wood his divine hands had created. And it was here that his body matured while his spirit waited for the right moment, the right day.
And now that day had arrived.
I wonder if he wanted to stay.
I wonder because I know he had already read the last chapter. He knew that the feet that would step out of the safe shadow of the carpentry shop would not rest until they'd been pierced and placed on a Roman cross.
You see, he didn't have to go. He had a choice. He could have stayed. He could have ignored the call or at least postponed it. And had he chosen to stay, who would have known? Who would have blamed him?
He could have come back as a man in another era when society wasn't so volatile, when religion wasn't so stale, when people would listen better.
He could have come back when crosses were out of style.
But his heart wouldn't let him. If there was hesitation on the part of his humanity, it was overcome by the compassion of his divinity. His divinity heard the voices. His divinity heard the hopeless cries of the poor, the bitter accusations of the abandoned, the dangling despair of those who are trying to save themselves.
And his divinity saw the faces. Some wrinkled. Some weeping. Some hidden behind veils. Some obscured by fear. Some earnest with searching. Some blank with boredom. From the face of Adam to the face of the infant born somewhere in the world as you read these words, he saw them all.
And you can be sure of one thing. Among the voices that found their way into that carpentry shop in Nazareth was your voice. Your silent prayers uttered on tearstained pillows were heard before they were said. Your deepest questions about death and eternity were answered before they were asked. And your direst need, your need for a Savior, was met before you ever sinned.
And not only did he hear you, he saw you. He saw your face aglow the hour you first knew him. He saw your face in shame the hour you first fell. The same face that looked back at you from this morning's mirror, looked at him. And it was enough to kill him.
He left because of you.
He laid his security down with his hammer. He hung tranquillity on the peg with his nail apron. He closed the window shutters on the sunshine of his youth and locked the door on the comfort and ease of anonymity
Since he could bear your sins more easily than he could bear the thought of your hopelessness, he chose to leave.
It wasn't easy But it was love.