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Summary: God made the message of Christmas a visual message to appeal to the eyes. Christmas from day one has always been a season for seeing. By His coming into the world Jesus changed how men see reality. He changed how man sees God and history, and how he sees the role of man and the goal of God.

Mr. and Mrs. Nudelman were on a 50th wedding anniversary trip to Paris where they

visited the Louvre. As they slowly walked past the masterpieces of the ages, Mrs. Nudelman

stopped in front of a huge Renaissance painting called, The Child In The Manger. As she

stood there, Mr Nudelman asked her why she looked so puzzled. "Don't you know what the

scene is about?" "Certainly I know what the scene shows, but I can't figure something out".

He asked, "what's to figure out?" She responded, "Here is a family living in a stable with

animals, the floor is dirt, covered with straw, and the little baby is almost naked: How could

they afford to have their picture painted?"

People do not see the same thing just because they are looking at the same thing. This is

especially true when people look at the nativity scene. A mother was explaining the scene to

her young daughter. "See, next to the manger there is a man, and his name is Joseph, and in

the manger there is a little baby, the baby Jesus, and the woman in the picture is reaching

over to pick up the child. Now who do you think she is?" The girl thought for awhile, and

then she said, "the baby-sitter." Everyone is conditioned by their own experience to see

different things in the Christmas scene. The eyes play a major role in seeing the details of

Christmas.

The shepherds were not sleeping, but were watching their flocks by night, and thus they

were wide awake with their eyes searching the darkness for any threat to their sheep. God

honored their caring eyes with a sight that has never been equaled. The Angel of the Lord

appeared to them, and their first response was that of terror. The radical brightness of

God's glory filled them with fear. The angel had to assure them that what they were seeing

was not a threat, but a blessing. He told them of a sign to look for; a baby wrapped in cloth

and lying in a manger. Their eyes were to be their guide to the gift of God.

Then a great company of angels appeared, filling both their eyes with glory and their ears

with praise. Their response was, let's go to Bethlehem and see. Seeing is believing, can be a

valid motto, and it was for them, for they had received a message that only the eyes could

confirm. They had to see the sign. And when they did, verse 17 says, "Having seen Him they

spread the word", and verse 20 says, "They praised God for all they had heard and seen."

The shepherds became the first eye-witnesses of the Christmas story.

The story of the wise men follows the same theme. They were not sheep watchers they

were star watchers in the night. God also bore witness to them through their eyes. They saw

the Star of Bethlehem and knew it was a sign of wonder, and that God had sent a great king

into the world. They too followed their eyes to the Christ child, and became part of the

Christmas scene, and the first eye-witnesses to the Gentile world.

The point of all of this is, God made the message of Christmas a visual message to appeal

to the eyes. Christmas from day one has always been a season for seeing. By His coming

into the world Jesus changed how men see reality. He changed how man sees God and

history, and how he sees the role of man and the goal of God. In the first stanza of a

Christmas hymn, I expressed it this way-

Before Jesus came to earth

God just seemed so far away.

But now because of His birth,

He's here with us on life's way.

Everything is different now,

Since the Lord came into view.

Before Jesus, now we bow,

For He's made everything new.

This is seen in the fact that Christmas is the season of the most radical visual changes in

the church and the culture. There is no other time of the year when we decorate the church

and see the whole community put up lights, trees and decorations. What is this massive

visual change of the environment? It is a witness to the eye-witness nature of the Christmas

message.

The message of Christmas is, the invisible God became visible, and the eyes of man beheld

Him in the flesh. The love of God became visible in a life that could be seen. The goodness

of God was no longer only a message to the ears, but now it was a message to the eyes of

man. Again, I said it in a chorus,

God you just didn't mean maybe

When you said this world you love.

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