“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” — Philippians 1:12–14
It’s crazy to think that people were sleeping when the most amazing thing happened—Jesus was born!
Well, not everyone was asleep.
The shepherds were awake, and, although they were terrified, they couldn’t believe that an angel came to tell them that Jesus was born. They were so excited that they rushed to find baby Jesus for themselves. And, after seeing him, they couldn’t wait to go tell everyone of this exciting news. What do you think happened when they started telling everyone what they saw?
The Bible says, “All who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them” (Luke 2:18, emphasis added). In other words, the people they told didn’t really understand what the shepherds were talking about. Wondered might be a polite biblical way of saying that people were thinking the shepherds had been with their flock too long and weren’t making much sense.
Do you ever feel that way when you try to talk to others about the real meaning of Christmas and why we celebrate the birth of Jesus?
It seems like just about everyone enjoys the fun of Christmas with the lights, presents, parties, and yummy food. But lots of people around us each day celebrate Christmas as just a holiday and probably wonder or are confused about the true story and why this season means so much to our faith. They look at us with wonder when we try to explain what Christmas really means.
Paul was writing his letter to the church while he was in jail in Rome. In his letter, he makes sure to let everyone know that God was doing amazing things and the word of Jesus was being shared even though Paul was in jail. He didn’t want people to be discouraged or sad but to know that God was at work doing great things—even miracles—while he was in prison. What great things?
It is believed that many of Paul’s guards accepted Jesus, so they had to keep replacing them with new ones for fear that they might let Paul escape. Paul’s courage and faith while he was in jail also encouraged many others to be bold and share their story of Jesus with those around them. Paul’s story, like the birth of Jesus, is a story of miracles. He didn’t let a little jail time stop him, but Paul told everyone how Jesus had changed his life. God was able to take Paul’s story and miraculously change lives of those around him.
We can be bold in our faith too. Like Paul, we have lots of people around us this Christmas who don’t understand what we believe about the Christmas story and why we believe it. If God allowed Paul to do amazing things while sharing his faith in jail, think of all we can do as we go about our days during this busy Christmas season. And so, just like the people who were confused when the shepherds told them about Jesus’ birth, some of our friends and family may wonder and not understand when we tell them about Jesus.
Even so, Christmas is a time to celebrate the miracle of Jesus and to share that the world around us needs to hear the truth. An amazing Christian preacher, Billy Graham, said, “Our lives are the only Bible most people will read.” In other words, remember that many people around us will never read a Bible, so the only way they will see what Jesus is like is by watching how we live our life. Sharing the true story of Christmas may be the only way they see Jesus. We have a story to tell others—let’s do that!
Lord Jesus, help us tell the true story of Christmas to those around us. Help us to be bold in our faith, and please allow the people who meet us today to see you!