Visually Announcing Emmanuel

Have you noticed how VISUAL the Christmas narrative is?

God sent an angel in visual form to tell Zechariah, Mary, and Joseph of their roles in His plan. The impossible was about to happen, and He made certain the messages were clearly delivered. (You’ll notice He also silenced Zechariah’s doubts until proof was cradled in the old father’s arms.)

God set a star in the sky to call and lead wise men from the east. They watched and followed as it came to rest over the house where Jesus stayed. These wealthy men had invested their lives in the study of manuscripts and stars. When they saw God’s announcement, they were overcome with joy and traveled for months to witness and affirm the royalty of the infant King of Kings.

God sent hosts of angels to announce the birth of Jesus to local shepherds. They couldn’t miss it as the sky lit up with God’s glory and the heavens roared with praise. These smelly men, lowest caste in their society, were given the first invitation to come and worship the God who made Himself accessible to everyone. They were given instructions to find a baby by visual cues “This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Once they found Him and worshipped, they invited everyone they could find to come and see. (You might also note that had Joseph and Mary found a proper inn, the shepherds wouldn’t have been welcome to approach Jesus as they were – much less become messengers to the entire town.)

Simeon was promised that he would not see death until he saw the Author of life. He praised God with, “…my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”

God sent an angel again to alert Joseph to the danger his family was in, and once more to tell him that it was safe to return to Israel.

Moving forward thirty years from the nativity, we get to the beginning of Jesus’ formal ministry. Zechariah’s son John was baptizing people who wanted to follow God’s Messiah. John introduced Him with, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! … I came baptizing with water [so that] He might be revealed to Israel.” John knew this because the Holy Spirit had told him to watch for a visual sign, the Holy Spirit as a dove coming to rest on Jesus at His baptism.

Over and again, we find in the scriptures that God doesn’t limit His announcements to spoken or written form. When it came to the most important announcements, He made them visual with His own unique SIGNature. He calls on us to do likewise.

We have good news of great joy for ALL people:

Emmanuel has come, God is with us.

May you have a Blessed Christmas.

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