Yesterday’s story continues….
Jesus’ journey to the cross proceeded just as inconspicuously as Joshua Bell’s subway concert. Our Lord did not step from heaven into a lavish palace here on earth. No royal fanfare and flourishes announced his arrival. Jesus did not enter our universe by way of an important city like Rome or even Jerusalem. Rather, as God had planned from the very beginning, Jesus’ journey to the cross took him first to a lowly manger in Bethlehem.
Our Savior was not born in a dirty subway station; he was, however, born into the ancient equivalent. Jesus Christ entered our world in a lowly stable. Creation’s king was born into the most unlikely set of circumstances: born to a virgin named Mary, greeted by a symphony of bleating sheep and the braying of donkeys, crowned only with the stray pieces of straw that happened to festoon his head. The Savior arrived without fanfare, fireworks or parades. Like a world-renowned musician playing to nobody in a subway, Jesus began his earthly journey to the cross in a manger in Bethlehem with almost nobody noticing.
Almost nobody. As you know, a few people did recognize Jesus. Shepherds took notice of what was happening in Bethlehem’s most important manger. The shepherds noticed, because angels came from heaven to tell them what had taken place. The shepherds went—probably running—to see the Christ Child. Luke, in fact, tells us that the shepherds rushed to the stable: “They went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger” (Luke 2:16).
From there, the shepherds went back to their sheep. They returned with joy in their hearts and good news on their lips. Luke tells us, “When they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child” (v. 17). Anyone awake at that hour heard those shepherds proclaiming the good news: The Savior’s journey had begun!
The good news did not stop there. It continued on its way throughout the region and beyond. Luke tells us, “All who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them” (v. 18). Those people, no doubt, told others. And on it went.
Thirty years later, Jesus went about the countryside teaching and healing. The good news of God’s promised salvation spread still farther. Everywhere Jesus went, the good news went with him. Every time he opened his mouth to teach, the good news spread. Whenever the disciples invited others to hear, to repent and to believe, the good news spread. After the Savior died and rose again, the good news of forgiveness in the cross of Christ spread still farther. And it spread. And it spread.
It has gone on spreading in all the centuries since, until you and I today are hearing the good news of Jesus’ journey to the cross. What began with some shepherds in a stable halfway around the world has come to us!