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Discovery Magazine 12/1/2005

Visiting Hours

Little children, and especially babies, naturally attract the attention of those around them. Maybe it is their innocent, fragile nature that causes us to watch them. People are eager and willing to visit the new additions to their family and to their friends’ family. Sometimes, family members travel long distances, either in their cars or by airplane, to see the proud parents and, more important, the new born baby. But how often would someone go out of their way, traveling a great distance, to visit a complete stranger’s child?

Actually, for a poor, young family in the city of Bethlehem, that is exactly what happened. And this family was not just visited by one individual, but by several visitors on two separate occasions. These visitors were not merely “in the neighborhood,” nor did they drive only a few minutes up the road in their nice car. Actually, both groups of visitors probably traveled by foot or on an animal to see the young family and their baby boy. But of course, this new Child was not just any baby. He was the glorious Son of God born to Mary as promised by the angel, Gabriel, thus fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah.

In Luke 2:8-29, we read the record of the shepherds who visited our Lord. These men were living out in the fields, watching and tending to their flocks, until one night when the shepherds were startled and frightened by the sudden appearance of an angel of the Lord. The angel calmed the shepherds, and announced to them that “there is a boy to you this day…a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (vs. 11). The shepherds traveled quickly, and found the new born Savior still lying in a manger.

In Matthew 2:1-12, we find the record of the other group who visited our young Lord. The Scriptures say that wise men from the East traveled to Jerusalem, seeking the “King of the Jews.” They came to Herod, the governing official over the area, saying, “We have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him” (vs. 2). This troubled Herod, since he considered himself to be the king of the Jews. Herod told the wise men to report back to him when they found Him, so that he could worship the new King as well. The wise men followed the star, until it stood over the place where Jesus was staying. They entered, and, seeing Mary and baby Jesus, they worshipped Him and gave gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The wise men were warned by God in a dream to leave, and not report back to Herod, who was plotting to kill the new born King.

All of those who traveled to visit the newborn King rejoiced that they had seen the Savior. Some people today would say that Jesus never lived. Yet, we know that He not only lives today, but is worthy of the praise of wise men, shepherds, and of you and me (Psalm 117:1).

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