It’s been more than a year since our trip to Israel and beyond. Although details have faded from memory, holy ground moments remain etched in stone. We stood in the cave where Jesus could have taken His first breath.
It was like we heard the story for the very first time: There were just too many people and the little village was overwhelmed. Joseph‘s family house was filled to overflowing. Mary needed privacy and privacy was not possible upstairs.
Mary and Joseph stayed downstairs in the stable/cave. Everything was strange and new to her. Was this the way she was supposed to feel? Was it supposed to so much? Was it supposed to take this long?
Alone, but not forgotten, she gave birth to a healthy, but helpless baby boy—the miracle, the incarnation of the Creator himself.
So it began. Jesus spent his first night wrapped in human skin sleeping in a hay-filled, bug infested, feed trough, probably cut out of rock.
While the God of creation was getting used to human limitations like breathing and crying, Bethlehem slept. The God who created time placed his future in the unproven and inexperienced hands of a teenage girl. The Savior of the world, the Messiah, the Christ, the Prince of Peace, the Son of God was sleeping in an ordinary stable on the edge of a tiny little village, in a troublesome providence of the Roman Empire. Nobody knew that this birth would change everything, everywhere.
God sent His birth announcements targeted for the recipients. The nameless, smelly, socially disconnected, beduin shepherds heard the news from angels. They had heard stories about angels before, but now they had seen for themselves. The news was incredible, “the Messiah has come.” They had to go. On that night centuries ago, God opened the windows of heaven, and for a brief moment ordinary shepherds could glimpse the glory of heaven itself.
The Magi, astrologers from the East, studied the stars, so God sent their invite in a brilliant star of wonder. It may have taken them months to arrive, but they came with urgency and gifts; they were in awe of this infant King. God always meets His creation where they are.
The religious leaders of the day missed the moment entirely; they missed the message. Their invitation was never opened, and through the years their refusal turned to irrational contempt. Living in the shadow of the Temple, they failed to see the “Holy of Holies” walking their streets and rocking their world.
If the greatest natural resource of Lubbock Texas, is sky, then the greatest natural resource of Jerusalem is rocks. They are everywhere. However, these stones are alive; they are storytellers.
We stood on rocks Jesus stood on. We walked on stones that witnessed his presence. Remember when the Jewish leaders wanted Jesus to chastise his outspoken followers, He replied, “If these voices are silenced, the rocks will cry out.” If the rocks would have cried out, it would have been a deafening tsunami.
Jesus lived for us and died for us and now lives in us. Even the rocks know the story. By the way, Paul says God sees us as living rocks with an invitation to speak. It’s the story that has to be told. We dare no keep silent.
So, speak up… tell your kids first.