The Bible is a history book (and so many other things) about God's relationship with His people. It's a story of a Father, Friend, and Lover longing to reestablish connection with His beloved. When I read through the Old Testament, I like to underline promises from God. In the book of Isaiah, God promises a savior called Immanuel, or God with Us (Isaiah 7:14). Christ's birth is the fulfillment of this promise; He is our Savior, our Immanuel.
During Christmas, we get the honor of celebrating and worshiping a God who desires relationship with us so much so that He came as fully human and fully God to restore that relationship. There are countless Christmas worship songs that we sing like O Holy Night, Little Drummer Boy, or All I Want for Christmas is You (not a worship song, but classic to the month of December). All jokes aside, when you think about worship, what comes to mind? What does worship actually mean? And what role does worship play in the Christmas story?
Worship is the act of showing something or someone complete adoration or deep respect whether through one's posture, acts, gifts, thoughts, words, or time. It's a heart position turned to action. Worship, or proskyneō in Greek, means to fall on your knees and touch the ground with your forehead. Matthew 2:11 uses proskyneō to describe how the wise men responded to the birth of Jesus:
"Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and falling to their knees, they worshiped [proskyneō] him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh." (CSB)
Can you imagine? Scholars, wealthy men-flat out on their face on a dirt floor, worshiping a child? Not only that, but presenting that same child with gifts of expensive perfumes and gold: gifts fit for a king?
I think it's noteworthy that these magi believed this child was something so much more than just a toddler of a carpenter. This child was worthy of their posture to change-their faces to the floor; this child was worthy of their acts and gifts-their presentations of gold, frankincense, and myrrh; and this child was worthy of their time-their travels to Bethlehem. This child was worthy of their worship, because of who He was.
I think we often miss the fact that genuine worship cannot exist without relationship. When I say relationship, I mean an intimate knowledge or connection with the person or thing being worshiped. The wise men knew that Jesus was the son of God prophesied about in the Old Testament (see Matthew 2:2). So did the shepherds in Luke 2:
"8 That night, in a field near Bethlehem, there were shepherds watching over their flocks. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared in radiant splendor before them, lighting up the field with the blazing glory of God, and the shepherds were terrified! 10 But the angel reassured them, saying, "Don't be afraid. For I have come to bring you good news, the most joyous news the world has ever heard! And it is for everyone everywhere! 11 For today in Bethlehem a rescuer was born for you. He is the Lord Yahweh, the Messiah. 12 You will recognize him by this miracle sign: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a feeding trough!" 13 Then all at once, a vast number of glorious angels appeared, the very armies of heaven! And they all praised God, singing: 14 "Glory to God in the highest realms of heaven!
For there is peace and a good hope given to the sons of men." 15 When the choir of angels disappeared back to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go! Let's hurry and find this Word that is born in Bethlehem and see for ourselves what the Lord has revealed to us." 16 So they ran into the village and found their way to Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in a feeding trough. 17 Upon seeing this miraculous sign, the shepherds recounted what had just happened. 18 Everyone who heard the shepherds' story was astonished by what they were told." (TPT)
Both the wise men and shepherds had an intimate knowledge of who Jesus was that drove them to worship and praise. My hope and prayer for you this Christmas season is that you would dive head first into a relationship with a God who so lovingly desires to know you. And as you come to know Him, your heart would be transformed into a constant state of worship. If this season of your life has been particularly hard, know that His promise in Isaiah is still true today:
He is our Immanuel- our God with Us.
I want to take you back to Luke 2:19 (HCSB). This verse follows the account of the shepherds visiting baby Jesus:
"19 But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them."
This verse seems random in the midst of the story, but I think the author wrote it this way to make it stand out on purpose. The future trials and pain that Mary would face weren't negated, but easier to endure, because she remembered. Mary remembered God's promise that He was good and faithful, but most importantly that He was with her.
He is a God who never abandons, never gives you the cold shoulder, and never forgets you. He is worthy of our worship in the good and the bad seasons-always and forever.
"Now this is what the Lord says-
the One who created you,
and the One who formed you-
"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name; you are Mine.
2 I will be with you
when you pass through the waters,
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not overwhelm you.
You will not be scorched
when you walk through the fire,
and the flame will not burn you."
(Isaiah 43:1-2, HCSB)
Author | Brooke DeLoach