Fear and Hope Collide at the Manger

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By David Bush

An affront to the proud, Jesus’ presence always brings joy to the humble of heart

Appropriately enough, the arrival of Christmas and the New Year brings a Dickensian variety of perspectives with them. Hope, joy, and wonder mix with cynicism, uncertainty, and fear. For many, this time of year becomes “the best of times and the worst of times.”
This polarization is nothing new. Jesus’ presence has instilled both fear and hope since His arrival in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago.

For King Herod and those aligned with his interests, news of Jesus’ birth was an intimidating and unwelcome development. For lowly shepherds and soft-hearted dignitaries from the East, it was unimaginably good news.

The initiation of Jesus’ earthly ministry was a longing fulfilled for bold yet humble John the Baptist (he of “He must increase and I must decrease” fame). Satan saw Jesus as a usurper who represented the first real challenge to his earthly kingdom.
The common man rejoiced in the light of the gospel Jesus proclaimed and advanced during his ministry; all while the religious establishment reviled and plotted destruction.
In the consummation of the ages, we will again see the spontaneous worship of the redeemed contrast with the begrudging and bitter bending of the knee from the self-sufficient.

Like the narcissists of centuries past, those who commercialize and marginalize the celebration of this season will never understand the wonder and joy that comes to believers as a result of Jesus’ incarnation. On the cusp of an uncertain new year, the persevering hope of the Christ -follower will always stand in contrast to the fear and brooding of those earth-bound souls desperate to preserve that which is fading away.

As we celebrate Jesus’ birth anew, may the Lord grant us humble hearts to comprehend His rich provision in the midst of our great need. As we enter a new year, may we be firmly established in the confidence that comes from a surrender to God’s sovereignty and a strength not our own.

“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people”
– Luke 2:10

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