And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. – Luke 2:1-20 KJV
As she read the Christmas story from Luke 2 in the King James Version of the Bible I heard the halt in her voice. I didn’t know whether she would make it through the reading. And for more than a moment she had to stop. So overcome by the sheer profundity of it all, she had to pause and catch her composure. It was at the words, “And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”
I’ve heard contrived tears. I’ve seen cracking voices that almost hide the false intent. This was neither contrived nor falsely motivated. The sheer depth of this incredible event had taken hold of her heart. She was deeply touched. Moved. Stopped. For a moment undone.
We’ve lost the wonder of this event, haven’t we? It’s now cute children (and they are cute to be sure). It’s sappy Christmas carols (and I do love Silent Night!). It’s Santa, and sleigh bells, Rudolf, and presents. None of that is necessarily bad. But none of that can stop a person in the way we all need to be stopped. None of that will bring a deep awareness of our desperate need for a Savior and God’s abundantly gracious means of giving us a Savior.
I love the newer translations of the Bible mostly because they convey the truth of God for people today who don’t have that foundational experience of reading the Christmas account from the King James Bible. They eschew formalistic and religious language for the sake of connecting with a world that is anything but formalistic or religious.
But once in a while these traditional translations, and religious trappings can stop us where we need to be stopped. It’s not really at the manger, but at the thought that God came to save us. He took on a baby’s flesh. He dwelt among us. He died for us. He rose again to vindicate all he had done and taught.
We need to be stopped there long enough to ponder in our hearts the love of God, his amazing grace, and the depth of the riches of the grace and glory of God. And so we read the Christmas account. Slowly. We pause. We ponder. We rejoice. We glorify God. For, “it came to pass in those days… a Savior is born who is Christ the Lord.”