“Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And [the shepherds] went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. Luke 2:15, Luke 2:16
Come to Bethlehem and see
Him whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.
When we sing these kinds of words in our Christmas carols, not many of us physically kneel. We understand that this carol’s invitation is metaphorical. Yet if we wish to actually behold Christ, then we must be ready to accept the invitation to come on bended knee in terms of the posture of our hearts. What does that mean? It means to come humbly and expectantly, and in recognition that this person is worthy of such homage.
Much like the shepherds, we are compelled and enabled to go to God because He is a seeking God. At the Nativity, He wonderfully took the initiative, sending His Son to the world as a helpless baby, and speaking to the shepherds through the angel: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). God took the initiative in grace, and the shepherds responded in faith. They believed the angelic message and eagerly began seeking the manger. Prioritizing their search above their livelihood and all they knew, they immediately sought to know for themselves the Redeemer of the world. What a wonderful illustration of how we ought to respond to God’s message!
Some may view the shepherds with ridicule, deeming them foolish in their simple belief and response. What prevents a man or woman from trusting God’s message like they did? One word: pride. Pride would have kept the shepherds in the fields, in possession of the angelic announcement but not of a relationship with the Christ. Pride will keep us from coming to Christ on bended knee and blind us to the truth that to know God truly requires of us a contrite spirit and a humble heart (Psalm 51:17).
At the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, it’s impossible to just stroll in. The door is too low. If you want to enter the place that represents the birth of the Lord Jesus, there is only one way to get in: stoop, bow down, and kneel. This is a beautiful picture—and it moves us to ask: Am I prepared to humble myself before Christ? Am I willing, like those shepherds, to give up my prior assumptions and previous plans to know and follow this Redeemer? Check your heart this Christmas Day: let its posture forever be one that bows before God’s glory and adores the one who first humbled Himself by coming to us as an infant King.
- James Chadwick, “Angels We Have Heard on High” (1862), trans. from the traditional French carol “Les Anges dans Nos Campagnes.”
Devotional material is taken from Truth For Life: 365 Daily Devotions by Alistair Begg. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company, thegoodbook.com. Used by Truth For Life with written permission.