In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.
Read Luke 2: 8-20
Entering the Lenten season can be pretty abrupt. In the midst of our normal lives, all of a sudden we’re encouraged to press the pause button and hop back on the bus marked “Lent” once more. The sign that says “This way to Easter” catches us off guard and we scramble to know how best to participate in the journey to the cross. We’ve traveled this way and to the same destination before. The scenery looks pretty similar. So, how do we embrace this year’s pilgrimage in a new and soul-refreshing way?
When the shepherds were out in the fields keeping watch over their flocks by night, they were shocked when the bright star was shining that night when Jesus was born. We look back to that occasion as we enter Lent, for it was at that moment when the promise of his coming into the world was fulfilled. In Lent we anticipate his departure from his earthly life and ministry and his return to his eternal home with the Godhead in heaven.
The shepherds’ utter surprise at the shining of such a brilliant beacon of light in the midst of their darkness led them into worship. When the glory of the Lord shone around them they were terrified. But, the angels came praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to them on whom his favor rests.” The shepherds response was classic worship: let’s go and see…so they hurried and found Jesus…and after seeing Jesus they left ecstatic with their discovery and shared the good news with all who were witnesses of their glorifying and praising God.
Like the humble hearted shepherds who were adorned with the presence of Jesus, so should we long for the same this Lenten season. We know the meta-narrative that awaits us in our journey to Holy Week and Easter. We’ve traveled this path in previous years and with similar companions. But, what can be different this time: eyes alert to the ways Jesus stretches out his arms for us in our comings and goings. And, when we behold him in our midst, to glorify God and offer fresh testimony to others.
Will you purpose to keep your eyes wide open so you can see Jesus this Lent? He may appear to you in the reading of his Word and the singing of his love in worship, or in the breaking of bread in fellowship with others of like heart and mind, or in your quiet place of alone time in prayer. Jesus may come to you this Lenten season through a warm embrace of a friend, or the kindness of a helpful deed, or even in a difficulty, pain or sorrow when you have only one place to turn.
Behold him in the starry night, believe him in the break of day, belong to him in the fellowship of the saints, and become like him in your worship and witness.