Christ’s Simple Appearance

Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.

–Luke 2:15

God’s indescribable gift–Jesus Christ–was preceded by elaborate preparation. God waited until just the right time to send His Son. But this gift was also missed by many because of its simple appearance. Luke 2:6-7 says, “While they were there, the days were completed for [Mary] to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Most people missed God’s indescribable gift because of the wrapping in which it came. You see, the Jews had been looking for the Messiah to be the King of kings. They expected him to come dressed in regal robes, not worn strips of cloth. Why did they expect that? The Jews were looking for a Messiah who would come and liberate them from their oppressors the Romans. They did not understand that their real need was for somebody to liberate them from their sins. That may explain why the angel chose to announce the coming of Christ to a group of shepherds. In the Jewish social scene, you did not get much lower than shepherds. They were the outcasts of society. But it was to this group that the announcement came. Look at verses 10-11: “The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior.’”

Notice how the shepherds responded: “When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, ‘Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us’” (v. 15). The shepherds picked up and beat a path to Bethlehem to see the Lord Jesus Christ. Now contrast their response to that of the religious leaders in Matthew 2. When the religious leaders heard about the coming of the Messiah, they did not move an inch. How do you account for that difference in response? Simply put, the religious leaders were filled with pride. They did not need a Savior, or so they thought. But the shepherds were filled with humility. Because they were outcast from society, they understood their need, and they went immediately to see their Savior.

What is the greatest need you have right now in your life? You might say, “I need a fresh infusion of cash into my checking account.” Or, “I need physical healing, either for myself or for somebody I care about.” Or, “I need reconciliation with someone from whom I have been estranged.” But our greatest need, whether we realize it or not, is the need for God’s forgiveness. Somebody has said that if man’s greatest need had been for information, God would have sent an educator. If our greatest need had been for money, God would have sent an economist. But our greatest need was for forgiveness, so God sent a Savior. That is what makes Jesus Christ His indescribable gift, but many people missed it because of its simple appearance.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “A Gift Beyond Description” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.

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