A Lesson From the Story of the Shepherds and the Wise Men.
THE LESSON—That the Light that was shed when the Christ-Child came to earth now brightens the farthest corners of the world.
Nothing is more beautiful and impressive than the story of the Christ-Child. It cannot be repeated too often, and it is essential at Christmas time.
"Let us hear once more the wonderful story of the shepherds who played such a large part in the first Christmas. [Read Luke 2:8-18. When you reach the words, 'Let us now go even unto Bethlehem,' draw the lines representing the city, using brown crayon. On completing the reading of verse 18, continue the narrative by reading Matthew 2:1-2 and 2:9-11. When you reach the words, 'the star which they saw in the east went before them and stood over where the young child was,' draw the star, with its rays, in orange, completing Fig. 23. This ends the reading.]
"I wish we could picture to ourselves the scene in Bethlehem when Jesus was born. We are told that there was such an immense crowd there that Joseph and Mary could find no shelter in the inn, but we should know that this does not mean a hotel, for they had nothing of this kind in Bethlehem. Indeed, it would not have been required, because all that the thousands of visitors needed was the permission to sleep on the floor on their own mats which they brought with them. This is the custom even today. It was a sacred duty of every Jew to give shelter to his countrymen who were on a journey, so, instead of an inn, the real meaning is that there was no room for them in any house in Bethlehem. It is probable that the stable in which they sought refuge was a rough cave, such as are to be found in that neighborhood now. So, let us note at the beginning that Jesus, the Savior, was born amidst the most humble surroundings, and also that when the angels came to announce His birth, they did not choose to tell the good news first to the rich and the powerful, but brought the wonderful story to the humble shepherds who watched their flocks by night on the hillside. But it was not to stop there. No, God wanted the world to know that the kingdom of love which came with the birth of Jesus was for the high and the lowly alike. So, by the brilliant star He guided the wise men from the east to worship Him and place at His feet the precious jewels and costly gifts, which show that they were men of great wealth and wisdom.
"So, we see, the coming of Jesus was to bring a blessing to all men. It was to be a kingdom of love which would include the whole wide world, 'for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'
"Let us remember that God 'gave' His Son to the world—it was the first and greatest Christmas Gift. We can never repay Him for this marvelous expression of His love. All we can do is to endeavor every day of our lives to do good and thus give as best we can of the blessings which have come from Him.
"At Christmas time we seem to have no difficulty in showing kindness to those about us. The earth is filled with His spirit, so that in millions of churches and homes throughout the world today we find a reflection of the star of Bethlehem in the countless shining candles and glittering electric lights which adorn the Christmas trees. [Draw candle flames and rays in orange. Draw tree in green, and use brown to fill in the trunk and the foundation. This completes Fig. 24.]
"Yes, everywhere that we see the sparkling candles or little electric lights, let us think of them as reflecting the light of the star of Bethlehem, to guide us to Him, just as the wise men were guided to that humble manger-cradle in Bethlehem. Many there are, we know, who make merry at Christmas, while shutting Jesus out of their lives. They know not the blessing of the warmth of Christian love which He brought into the world, which is for them, if they will only accept it.
"But let us look at our own lives and see if we are reflecting the true spirit of Christmas. Some one has said that true Christmas giving is true Christmas living—living not merely at Christmas time in fellowship with all, but throughout the year, with no difference in days excepting that with their succession we may grow more and more humble and faithful—more like Him."
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