Mary and Joseph recognized the exceptional child they were given to raise because His identity was revealed to them by angels.
Elizabeth and her unborn son recognized Him when His pregnant mother spoke words of greeting.
Shepherds recognized Him by a glorious announcement made by a host of heavenly angels appearing in their lowly fields.
Magi from afar recognized His star in the east, guiding their way to His birthplace in Bethlehem, as the prophecy foretold.
At Jerusalem’s temple Simeon and Anna recognized Him as a baby distinct from many brought for consecration, through revelation by the Holy Spirit.
So why do so many not recognize Him today, not even on the holiday which celebrates His birth? God’s greatest gift to all people gets lost in obscurity amidst the glitter and tinsel now cluttering up Christmas. Not only do people fail to recognize Christ for who He is; Emmanuel, God with us, they fail to recognize His very existence.
This is not just a contemporary failure. Missing the Messiah began long before His birth and continued during His earthly life. Not long before His death Jesus wept over Jerusalem because He knew the destruction it would soon suffer. “Your enemies will smash you into rubble and not leave one stone standing on another, and they will cut your children down too because you did not recognize the day when God’s Anointed One visited you.” (Luke 19:44 The Voice)
Even though moments earlier a whole crowd of followers spread their cloaks on the road before Jesus and shouted praises for the miracles they had seen, they did not truly recognize it was God riding on a colt in their midst. Because of their rejection of Him, their eyes were blinded. Because they would not see Him as its source, they could not receive the peace He offered.
I confess, I’ve not recognized the Messiah more often than I care to admit. I miss Him when the world lures me aside with its siren call. I miss Him when I recognize only myself and my own desires. And I miss Him when I neglect precious time alone to commune with Him, not recognizing how much He wants to speak to me.
So this Christmas my desirous prayer is that I would more fully recognize the wonder of God’s sojourn to this humble earth. I will never comprehend what it took for Almighty God to become a man, but I will forever praise Him that He did. It was a supreme act of love, a visitation which changed the course of history and thus, the direction of my own life. He can change the direction of many lives, if only He is recognized for who is, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
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