Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Recognizing Jesus

One of my favorite Christmas stories is about the old shoe cobbler who dreamed that Jesus would come visit him on Christmas Eve. The dream was so real that he was convinced it would come true. So the next morning he got up and cut green boughs to decorate his little cobbler shop. Before the work day began he was all ready for Jesus to come and visit. He was so sure that Jesus was going to come that he just sat down and waited for Him. 

The hours passed and Jesus didn't come. However, an old man came. He shuffled inside for a moment to get warm out of the winter cold. As the cobbler talked with him he noticed the holes in the old man's shoes, so he reached up on the shelf and picked out a new pair. The cobbler made sure they fit, that his socks were dry and sent him on his way. Still he waited, but Jesus didn't come. 

Then an elderly woman showed up. It was obvious the woman hadn't eaten a decent meal in days. So the cobbler prepared a lunch for her from his own pail. After she finished her tea and bread she thanked the cobbler, “Merry Christmas and God bless you laddy!” and headed out into the chill. By now it was late in the afternoon and the cobbler sat down again to wait for Jesus. But Jesus still didn't come. 

The silence of the afternoon was broken when he heard a little boy crying out on his front stoup. He went out to talk with the boy, only to discover that the boy had been separated from his parents and didn't know how to get home. So the cobbler put on his coat, locked up his shop, took the boy by the hand and led him home. 

When he came back to his little shoe shop it was almost dark and the streets were emptied of people. The cobbler realized his dream was just that—a dream—there would be no Jesus. In a moment of despair he lifted his voice to heaven and said, "Oh Lord, why didn't you come?" A tear rolled down his cheek and he seemed to hear a voice speaking to his heart "Oh cobbler, lift up your heart. I kept my word. Three times I knocked at your friendly door. Three times my shadow fell across your floor. I was the man with the bruised feet. I was the woman you gave to eat. I was the boy on the homeless street.” You see Jesus had come, but the cobbler just didn't realize it. 

So it was for the first Christmas as well. The Son of God entered the world and there was a “No Vacancy” sign on the door of Bethlehem’s Motel 6 (Luke 2:7). The apostle John remarked, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (1:11). It’s almost too ironic, the Creator of the world entered our time-space continuum and it was witnessed by more animals than humans. Had the innkeeper of known Mary was about to give birth to his Redeemer you’d think he would have given them the corner penthouse. 

Just as the Christ-child was overlooked we often are guilty of the same ignorance this time of year. Do we see opportunities to minister to others that the world pushes aside? Christ reminds us, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25:11). Let’s keep our hearts, doors and wallets open to others this Christmas and you just might be surprised who the Lord might send your way.           

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