My newspaper column this week.
It’s a common complaint this time of year: We’re too caught up in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas holiday to slow down and remember the true reason for the season — which, for Christians, is the birth of Jesus Christ.
But when you stop to think about it, is it really so shocking that in this fast-paced, modern era, we become too caught up in the business of the season to remember why we celebrate?
After all, it wasn’t so different on that very first Christmas morning, more than 2,000 years ago.
The Israelites had been promised a messiah for hundreds of years. For generations, they had anxiously awaited the arrival of their savior. For generations, their prophets had foreshadowed this messiah’s arrival.
The birth of Jesus of Nazareth was first prophesied in the Book of Genesis, the very first book of the Hebrew Bible, written some 2,000 years before-hand.
The prophet Isaiah foretold that the Jews’ messiah would be virgin-born 700 years before Jesus’s birth.
The prophet Jeremiah foretold that the messiah woud be descended from the lineage of King David some 600-plus years before Jesus’s birth.
The prophet Micah foretold that the messiah would be born in Bethlehem as much as 680 to 700 years before Jesus’s birth.
For so long, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had awaited the promised messiah, and the prophets recorded in the Hebrew Bible — as familiar to the faithful among them as the Bible’s New Testament is to faithful Christians of our day — so many signs of his arrival that the obviousness of it should’ve slapped them in the face. The Hebrew world knew who, they knew how, and they knew where.
And, yet, on the morning of the nativity, everyone was so caught up in the census-taking and tax season that they did not have a clue that the most influential religious and social figure the world would ever know was making his grand entrance.
There, in tiny Bethlehem, only the barnyard animals witnessed the arrival of this man whose influence would still resonate throughout the world some 2,000 years later; only a few lowly shephards showed up to see what all the fuss was about.
We know the wise men showed up later, bearing gifts, and we know that Jesus began to draw large crowds after growing to adulthood and developing his ministry. And, we know that today, some 2,000 years after he was condemned to death by Jewish judiciaries, his teachings are still faithfully adhered to by an estimated two billion people throughout the world.
But on that day in Bethlehem, that first Christmas morning, the world was too busy to notice the arrival of one whose birth had been written about for so long.
Much has changed in 2,000 years. But, it seems, much has stayed the same.
• Ben Garrett is Independent Herald editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.