A Christmas Wrapped in Praise
[dropcap]L[/dropcap]et’s start with a question: What is the one thing God made sure Jesus got the best of, when He arrived on earth?
Was it our riches? No. Jesus was born in a cave used to keep animals. There was nothing rich about it.
Was it our royalty? No. Jesus’ parents were a shepherd boy and a hand-maiden. They weren’t kings and queens.
Was it our 5-star resorts? Absolutely not; in fact, there was no guest room or lodging place of any kind available to Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem.
No, it wasn’t any of the luxuries we tend to think are important and valuable. There was one thing, however, that God made sure Jesus received in abundance. When Jesus was born into this world, He was welcomed with praise. The entire event of Jesus’ birth was wrapped in pleasing and powerful acts of worship. No less than ten times, joyful and spontaneous praise was offered to God because of Jesus’ advent into our sin-cursed world.
Nine out of the ten praise-events occurred in the first two chapters of Luke…
First, there was Gabriel’s announcement that Jesus would be born. He told Mary that Jesus would be great, the Son of the Most High. Then there was John the Immerser. He had not even been born. Yet, when Mary came to tell his mother, Elizabeth, about Jesus, John leapt for joy in Elizabeth’s womb. Elizabeth responded by saying to Mary, “Blessed are you among women…Blessed is the Child you will bear” (1:42). Then, listen to how Mary started her song of praise. “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” (1:46-47).
Want more praise? Then look at Zechariah. John’s father worshiped God when his son was born because he knew John would prepare the way for the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. As soon as Mary delivered her infant King, the angels got in on the praise as well. They appeared to the Shepherds out in a field not far from the manger. They were keeping watch over their flocks by night. Do you remember what they sang? Say it out loud right now: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will to men” (2:14). Can you imagine how those shepherds must have felt as they hurried to the stall and first laid eyes on God incarnate? Their stunned silence in His presence quickly led to loud and amazing proclamations of praise to anyone who would listen to their story.
Eight days later, Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple where Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised his God, saying, “My eyes have seen your salvation…a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel” (2:30). At that very moment, a prophetess named Anna came up to them and gave thanks to God as she spoke about the Child, our Redeemer.
And of course we can’t forget about the Magi. They came from the East following a star that eventually led them to Bethlehem some months later. Matthew 2:11 chronicles their amazing sacrifice of praise. It reads, “When they saw the Child…, they fell down and worshiped Him. Then they presented unto Him their treasures…”
From Extraordinary People
Clearly Jesus was showered with praise when He arrived here on earth. But notice it didn’t necessarily come from people who were famous or outstanding in society. No, the praise Jesus received came mostly from ordinary folk. Yet, then again, these people were actually quite extraordinary. They all had hearts that were passionately in love with their God.
I can just imagine the Father looking down from heaven and saying, “Now, who will get the privilege of welcoming my Son with the praise He deserves? Let’s see…Oh yes, there’s one: that little teen-age handmaiden girl. She’s caught my eye because her heart is blameless toward me. And there’s another one over there; that’s Simeon. He’s been waiting and looking all his life for the Messiah—and he’s about to meet Him face to face. And what about those plain, hard-working shepherds in that field? Maybe the world doesn’t think much of them, but I’ve chosen the lowly and weak of the world to shame the strong—so that no one can boast in my presence. I’ve carefully selected each of these for the privilege to welcome Jesus into the world. I’ve hand-picked them, because they all qualify by the standards of heaven to offer pure praise to my most worthy Son—No way I would entrust that most important task to just anyone.”
Our Extraordinary Privilege
In light of all the worship surrounding Jesus’ birth, here’s one final question for us: Now that we see the huge priority God put on people giving His Son praise and honor, what do you think He wants our highest goal this Christmas to be…?
About the Author:
Dwayne Moore is an author, speaker, leadership coach and church consultant. He is founder of Next Level Worship. He is also Pastor of Worship and Creative Arts at Valley View Church in Louisville, KY. Dwayne has written multiple books, including the award-winning Pure Praise: A Heart-focused Bible Study on Worship and the church-wide study, Heaven’s Praise: Hearing God Say “Well Done.” Dwayne has taught and led worship for more than 35 years in over 1000 churches and conferences. He’s a partner faculty member at Liberty University, and he’s contributed numerous articles to Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox. Go to www.NextLevelWorship.com to connect with Dwayne.