I love Christmas Cards and Christmas Letters. I happen to have a lot of friends who send out cards with family portraits (pictures) in them. It’s fun to see how people change every year and how the children are growing.
This year I got a picture from my good friend Bona. Here it is. That’s Bona and her husband Josh. Now who do you suppose the little girl is? It’s their daughter, Jeta.
When I looked at Jeta, I noticed something about her right away. Do you see how she’s holding her head just like her mommy? And she smiles like her too. But her eyes are very much like her daddy’s.
That’s one of the other things I really like about family pictures. You get a hint of what the children might look like when they grow up – by looking at the grown-ups. That’s especially fun in big family pictures when you have grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and people whose names you can’t even remember. That’s when you find the ears that stick out funny or the cowlick, or even the dimples when people smile.
I was thinking about that the other day, and I wondered if Jesus looked like Mary. Or if he ended up walking the same way Joseph did. And I was kind of disappointed that we couldn’t look at any of his family pictures. Because, well, it’s not like they had cameras back then. But… we can look at this a little differently… we’re going to build a little bit of a picture here, and then we’ll see what we can find out about Baby Jesus in that picture.
(Place figures from the Nativity Scene out onto the table as we tell the story together)
So, we know the story right? Mary and Joseph had to travel all the way to Bethlehem, even though Mary was about to have her baby. The only place they could find to stay was a stable, and that’s where the baby was born. Nearby, there were shepherds out watching over their sheep. The angel came and said, “Don’t be afraid. We’re here to tell you the good news!” And they sent the shepherds to see the baby. Later, three wise men came to see the baby, bringing gifts from their home far away. They had seen a star that told them a great king was born. Mary and Joseph never expected all this company, but they were thankful, because they realized that everything the angels told them had come true.
Now… we’ve got everybody here. It’s not a real family, but sometimes when you are far from home, you take what you can get! So let’s have a look at these folks for a minute.
Let’s start with Joseph. Joseph was a carpenter. And you might know that Jesus learned how to build things from Joseph- he was learning how to be a carpenter until it was time for him to go teach others about God. So from Joseph, we can see that Jesus will be a person who makes things, not destroy them. God sent Jesus to start building God’s kingdom.
Who’s next? Mary. Mary was a mommy. Now, Jesus was a boy, so he couldn’t become a mommy. But we know that Jesus loved children. And we know that Jesus loved to care for the people who were sick or sad or lonely. When Jesus was a little boy, I bet Mary did those things for him. So when we look at Mary, we can see Jesus will be a person who helps people, not hurt them. God sent Jesus to heal and to love.
Shepherd. Was Jesus ever a shepherd? Not for sheep, but he sure did a lot of shepherd things with the people who followed him, especially his friends. He was their leader; he looked for people who were lost or in danger. If someone wandered off and started doing things that were wrong, he corrected them and made them part of the group again. So when we look at the Shepherd, we can see Jesus will be a person who leads because he cares about his people, not because he wants to be bossy. God sent Jesus to watch over us.
Kings. Jesus was born in a stable and he grew up learning to be a carpenter. But do you remember why the Kings traveled far to see him? Because the star they saw was a sign that a great king was born. The greatest king. But Jesus wasn’t a king in a palace wearing fancy clothes. Jesus is the King because he is God’s son. God is the King of all Creation and Jesus rules with Him in the Kingdom of Heaven. When we look at the Kings with their gifts, we see that Jesus will be a ruler who is giving and will be sure His people have all they need. God sent Jesus to be a good king.
Who’s left? The Angel. Jesus isn’t an angel. But here’s a neat word trick for you. In Greek, the word for Angel is the same word as Messenger. Jesus grew up to be one of the best messengers ever! He taught all sorts of people using all sorts of stories and healings and miracles. And you know what message he brought us? That God loves us so much that He wants us to know him and be with him forever. That’s why Jesus came to be born. When we look a the angel, we see that Jesus was God’s messenger of Good News. God sent Jesus to live and die as a man, so that if we believe in Him we can live in God’s love forever.
Is that everyone? Did we see Jesus’s whole family? No
There’s you…and you…and them…and me.
Can you see Jesus in me? He’s living in my heart, so I should look more like Jesus every day! I want to see Jesus in each of you, too.
How will we know, since we don’t have a picture? We’ll know if we see each other living like Jesus.
We need to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. And we need to love others as we love ourselves.