Every magic trick worth its time leaves us staring. “Wait. What? What just happened?”
Instant replays on television shows like America’s Got Talent help us look at it a second or third time, and sometimes from different angles. But we can’t figure it out. We are amazed and left wondering.
After hearing the shepherds in the streets or finding them at their front door, the residents of Bethlehem must have wondered afterwards, “What just happened? Those guys are all stirred up and it sounds crazy. What does all of this mean?”
Shock and Awe
Christmas is more than the Jack-in-the-Box appearance of angels and the Son of God. One minute the world is normal, then POP! Angels. Baby. And then it goes back to the way it was, just a little bit different from before.
The coming together of the first Christmas tells the tale of Heaven’s “shock and awe” strategy for the birth of Jesus. The surprise shocks us and stops us in our tracks, gets our attention, pierces through all of the other noise in our lives. The wonder makes us look in awe, ponder, let the impossible sink in and change us.
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).MATTHEW 1:22-23 NIV
This is about the impossible arrival of God’s Son in human flesh. The Creator stepped into the creation, the Timeless into time, the All-Powerful as a helpless babe.
The previous post in this series dealt with the surprise of magic. This post talks about the wonder.
Wonder is what separates the magician from the audience. The magician knows the ins and outs of what is going on. They studied, developed, prepared every element and rehearsed every move. The audience only sees the end result.
God moves in ways which are full of wonder in an effort to draw us closer to Him. Even the Bible tells how a magician’s abilities encourage people to think of him as someone special, admired, even feared (Genesis 41; Daniel 4; Acts 8).
How much more magnified should our feelings of awe and admiration for God be when He acts in power to do more than we can ask, imagine or explain? Both God and His works are wonderful, a.k.a. “full of wonder”. Several Psalms talk about proclaiming or thanking God for His wonderful deeds.
We should not rush on to the next thing but take a little time to take in the wonder and be in awe of Him. Maybe we need to learn from Mary, who “treasured these things and continued to think about them” (Luke 2:19 NCV).
Solving the Riddle
When we see an amazing magic trick after the surprise and amazement, what is the next thing to appear inside of us? The desire to know what happened.
A major difference between Jesus and the magician is our Savior wants to share the information behind what happened while the trickster keeps it a secret. If the axiom “knowledge is power” is true, Jesus offers it freely while the magician hordes it for himself.
Jesus says, “Come to Me. Abide to Me. Do as I do. Ask and it will be given to you. You will do greater things than these.”
This is a great definition of wonder to help close out this post:
wonder: a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.Oxford Languages
Take some time this Christmas to be amazed by our wonder-full Savior. Be careful not to jump ahead too quickly or let all of the activity (if you’re lucky enough to have some) draw your attention from the amazing.
Christmas is God’s incomprehensible grab for our attention, to draw us near to Him in order to receive His love and goodness. It takes hold of us in moment and could take an eternity to learn its depths.