“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,though you are small among the clans of Judah,out of you will come for meone who will be ruler over Israel,whose origins are from of old,from ancient times.”Therefore Israel will be abandoneduntil the time when she who is in labor bears a son,and the rest of his brothers returnto join the Israelites.He will stand and shepherd his flockin the strength of the Lord,in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.And they will live securely, for then his greatnesswill reach to the ends of the earth.
~Micah 5:2-4 (NIV)
When we read this scripture, it is possible to misunderstand the main subject. The first paragraph seems to be all about Bethlehem. The second paragraph about Israel. Even the last paragraph could focus on living securely.
Yes, Bethlehem was important, but only because Jesus was born there. Israel was important, but only because Jesus was born an Israelite. Living securely is important, but only because we live securely in Jesus’ greatness. Jesus is important because of who He is~the blessed Son of God. He is the Good Shepherd who shepherds us “in the strength of the Lord and the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.”
When Israel’s religious leaders read this passage, they understood that it was a great prophecy about the Messiah, but they thought the purpose of the Messiah was to lead them to an earthly victory over their enemies. Their focus became on what the Messiah would do instead of who the Messiah is. Because of this, many of them missed Jesus. They didn’t recognize Him because they focused on the wrong thing. They read this prophecy in the context of what they thought it meant to them personally~rescue from an oppressive government.
When we read God’s Word, we can make the same mistake. It is easy to read scripture to see what God says about us. While that is not always a bad thing, at times in doing so we miss Jesus. The entire Bible is centered around the story of God’s dearly loved Son, Jesus. Even now, everything that happens around us and in our lives is God’s story and centers around Jesus. We get to be a part of the story, but our role is a supporting role. Jesus’ story is the main story! And what a beautiful story it is! It’s a story of love and redemption~of grace and mercy~of rescue~our rescue! It’s ok when we read the Bible to hear God speak to us, but we should never be so focused on our lives that we miss Jesus!
This Christmas let’s change our focus from ourselves to Jesus. Each day of Advent as we read God’s Word, let’s focus on the central character~Jesus! Not only is He the main character in the Christmas story, He’s the main character in our story! Join us this Christmas season as we prepare our hearts by focusing on Jesus and His beautiful story!
Heavenly Father, forgive us for those times when we’ve focused on ourselves instead of Your Son. In the past we’ve made so many other things our focus at Christmas~the lights and decorations, the beautiful music, family, even our own heartache and struggles. Help us this Christmas season to focus on Jesus. During this Advent, we invite Your Holy Spirit to help us as we prepare our hearts to truly recognize Your Son as the main role in our story~His beautiful story! We pray this in the precious name of Jesus~Amen.
What is one thing that tends to grab your attention and focus the most during the Christmas season?