What was it like to be an angel on that first Christmas? Our story's conclusion...
I was going to see the Lamb! I practically shouted with joy!
Gabriel and I made our way back to earth. We passed over the same land, water and grassy field where we'd been moments before. Only the sheep stood there now. Soon a small village came into view. The streets were crowded with people, even at this late hour. I guessed they had all come to worship the Lamb.
Gabriel took me to the edge of town. I looked about for the palace. All I saw were simple houses and a place where animals were kept.
"Why are we here?" I asked, confused. "I thought we were going to see the Lamb."
"We are," Gabriel replied. We stopped at the entrance where animals lived. The sound of lowing cattle met us.
I turned to Gabriel, thinking he must be mistaken. "Here?"
He nodded again. "See His star?"
I looked to where he pointed. A brilliant light shone down from the black night directly onto this place. I didn't understand. Why would the King of kings be in a smelly, dirty stable? Why would he leave the riches of heaven and come here?
Gabriel motioned me inside. I took hesitant steps into the dimly lit space. I was surprised to find the shepherds from the field there. They knelt in front of a small wooden structure. I noticed a young woman sitting on a blanket on a bed of straw. She looked tired but happy. Her eyes shone bright as she spoke softly with the shepherds. A man stood nearby. I got the distinct feeling he was alert to every noise and every movement, as though watching, guarding.
I followed Gabriel as we moved closer to the humans. They couldn't see us, for which I was glad. I was confused about what was happening and didn't want them to know it. We stepped into a circle of lantern light, and I gasped at what I saw before me.
A tiny, brand new baby lay in a manger, wrapped in cloths. His eyes were closed, and he slept peacefully.
I looked at Gabriel. "The Lamb?" I whispered in shock.
"Yes. Our Prince." He looked at the baby. "The Savior of the world."
I gazed at the small, helpless lump of humanity. I didn't recognize him at all. Gone was the Prince of heaven, to be replaced with a creature who could do nothing for himself, let alone the entire world. I glanced at the lowly shepherds, ragged and dirty, worshipping him. At his mother and earthly father who clearly did not live in a palace but were forced to take refuge with animals.
It didn't make any sense. None at all.
"How can this be?" I asked. "Where is his throne? Where is his palace? Why should God leave the riches of heaven to come to earth in this manner?"
Gabriel shrugged. "In what manner should he have come? As a Warrior God, forcing the people of earth to worship him?"
I frowned. "No." God doesn't want anyone--angel or human--forced to worship him. "Tell me then. Why is the Lamb here, like this?"
"For them," Gabriel said simply, indicating the shepherds. "And for others like them. Had the Lamb come to earth with an army of angels and set up his kingdom in a palace, many humans would have come and bowed before him. But they would not have come with a pure heart seeking a Savior. And that is why the Lamb came: to seek and to save the lost. To do that he must dwell among them and know life as they do. He must face the same temptations, the same trials and, ultimately, the same death. But when he is raised to life again, then they will know that he is their King. Then those whose hearts are open and receptive will bow down in true worship."
I understood then.
God had asked the Lamb to sacrifice himself for all mankind. He left the perfection of heaven, knowing he would be born in a barn to a humble couple with lowly shepherds as the only worshippers. He knew he wouldn't live in a palace or be honored as Lord. He knew the people of earth would eventually reject him and kill him.
Yet he came anyway! He came because of his great love for mankind. He came because he wanted the people he loves to be free from the bondage of sin. He wanted them to live a life of joy and peace with God. And He wanted them to spend eternity in heaven with Himself and the Father.
I looked at the baby again. He was awake now, silently studying the faces around him. Then he looked at me, and I fell to my knees.
"My Lord and my God," I whispered.
His tiny lips lifted in a smile. I smiled back.
While Mary, Joseph and the shepherds laughed and cooed over the smiling baby, I stood, ready to return to heaven.
I knew God had things firmly under control here on earth.
Jesus left the glory of heaven to dwell on earth for one reason: You! His love for you is beyond anything you could ever imagine. It is full and complete. It is everything your heart and soul desires. If you don't know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, my prayer is you will take time this Christmas to truly seek him.
Merry Christmas to You and Yours!
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