When was the last time you said, “Behold!”? It’s not a word we use much any more. Today, we use expressions like, “Hey, look at that!” or “Wow!” Each of these phrases express the emotion surrounding a spectacular event.
The word “behold” perfectly describes the reaction we have in recognizing Jesus Christ, especially during the season of His birth. We see and observe a person, Jesus, who is especially remarkable and impressive. He is the most remarkable and impressive man to ever walk the face of the earth! Christmas is meant to be a “Wow Season” for all of us as we behold the Newborn King.
In VFC’s Christmas message, Pastor Jeff reminisces on Wow Seasons throughout his life including childhood memories from Christmas morning, a trip to New Zealand, and the wedding days of his daughters, to name a few. Like Pastor Jeff, we can all reflect on times in our lives where we experienced Wow! Behold! moments and seasons that inspired us, gave us purpose, and changed our lives in ways we’ll never forget.
Like us, three different individuals in the Old Testament encountered “Wow!” moments in relationship to the birth of Jesus. We’ll explore these Behold! experiences here, and they’re also beautiful showcased in the incredible production of Behold! Take a look, and you’ll hear personal stories portrayed from the perspective of Elizabeth (Mary’s cousin and John the Baptist’s mother), Joseph (Jesus’s earthly father), and Tobias (the innkeeper in Bethlehem).
As you’ll see in VFC’s Behold!, we hear from Elizabeth, Joseph, and Tobias during the weeks preceding Jesus’s birth.
Elizabeth’s “Wow!” moment came when her cousin Mary came to visit. The Lord revealed to her the importance of a child that Mary had within her. As Mary witnessed Elizabeth’s “Behold!” revelation, she was confirmed in her own wow moment from months earlier. We see Mary’s experience described in Luke 1:28,31:
(28)And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” (31) And behold! You shall conceive in your womb and bring forth a son, and shall call his name Jesus.”
After hearing that, Mary naturally thought, “Wait, what?! How is this possible since I’m a virgin?” The angel answered her in Luke 1:35:
(35)The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who will be born and will be called the son of God."
Joseph’s “Behold!” experience looked much different than Eliabeth’s when she saw Mary. Unlike Elizabeth, Joseph hadn’t yet experienced his own “Wow!” moment with an angel…until now. Whereas Eilzabeth’s wow moment was one of utter joy and celebration, Joseph's looked a little more like, “wow…I didn’t see that coming…”
Here he was, engaged to be married, and he finds out his fiancee is pregnant. This unexpected revelation would challenge any of us to our core! As if the surprising news of Mary’s pregnancy isn’t enough to rattle Joseph, she then tries to explain how it happened.
As Joseph’s laying in bed one night, contemplating what to do with this news he’s received, he falls asleep and gets his “Behold!” moment when God revealed to him through a dream that this child was something special. Here’s what the Bible says in Matthew 1:20-21:
(20) But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. (21)And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
With God’s help, Joseph had a “Wow!” moment and was able to see Jesus for who he would ultimately become–the Savior of the World–even before He was born. Joseph was shown the power and the purpose of Jesus.
The Innkeeper and owner of the stable where Jesus was born in Bethlehem was named Tobias and, as you’ll see clearly in Behold!, was feeling burnt out and overwhelmed by all the responsibility of managing his overflowing-with-people-inn during the census. He saw the desperation in Joseph’s and Mary’s faces as they needed a room that night to have their baby.
But with no idea that Mary would soon deliver the Savior of the World and truly no room to spare in his inn, Tobias had only his barn to offer. And with that, on that first Christmas morning, in a manger, Mary gave birth to Jesus. Tobias’s “Behold!” moment arrived following the announcement from the angelic choir, the shepherd’s “Wow!” moment, and the arrival of all the guests traveling to see the Newborn King. We see in Luke 2:10-12:
(10)The angel said to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid. Behold! I bring you good tidings of great joy, which will be to all people. (11)For there is born to this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (12)And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
Centuries earlier, the prophet Isaiah shared that an incredible Behold! Wow! moment was coming in the future. The things he said in Isaiah 7:14 came to pass in the Christmas story:
(14)Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call His name Immanuel.
Immanuel simply means “God with us.” Pastor Jeff shares more on the depths of the meaning of the word Immanuel in this message, and we’ll continue uncovering the fullness of who Jesus is here, too.
Mary’s “Wow!” moment preceded the birth of Jesus and foretold things to come that would radically change not only her life, but the lives of every person to ever live.
Which “Behold!” moments have you experienced that helped you see pieces of God’s plan for your life? How did this wow moment shape your thoughts and actions moving forward?
We may be unsure and uncertain of what the future holds but, like Mary, we can trust God’s call on our lives and his plan to use our “Behold!” moments for his divine purposes.
We learned that Immanuel translates to mean “God with us.” Theologically speaking, we call this the hypostatic union. It’s God and man together, as one–the creator and the created becoming one; the finite and the infinite united in Jesus–the one we celebrate every Christmas. He’s the most unique person in history, the singular most remarkable man to ever walk among us.
Jesus was 100% God, and yet he was 100% man, simultaneously; this revelation should completely change how we look at Jesus Christ! In Isaiah 9:6, we see more identifiers describing who Jesus is:
(6)For unto us a child is born; Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
When we think of Jesus, we see Him for who He is… He is wonderful. He counsels us when we need it. He’s the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father. He’s the one who brings us peace. This truth is something we need to Behold! We should stop everything around us, especially during the Christmas season, and just breathe in that “Wow!” of who He is.
Our prayer for everyone during this Christmas season is that we’ll have a similar wow moment that Elizabeth had when the Spirit of God revealed to her that the child within Mary was not just any child but someone who would profoundly change this world. Jesus, 100% man and 100% God, would grow up and give this life as a ransom for our souls.
Who is Jesus to you? How does the wonder of the Christmas story influence your understanding of God’s greatest gift to humanity, His Son?
The Messiah, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, was born in a barn, laid in a manger, and yet destined to save the world from its sins. Let’s not allow the significance of this Behold! Wow! moment to pass us by, because Christmas was only the beginning of the story.
Jesus–Immanuel, God with us–walked among us to point us to God, who made all of the heavens and earth and life, and yet, He made all of us. He is a God who loves us, who forgives us, who makes a way for us to get to know Him personally.
While Jesus was walking on the earth, many unfortunately missed their wow moment, their opportunity to behold Jesus. John, Elizabeth’s son, details this missed opportunity in John 1:10-12:
[speaking of Jesus] (10)“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. (11)He came to His own and His own did not receive Him. (12)But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”
Even when Jesus was walking on earth, there were people who did not know Him. So what do we believe this, and every Christmas? We believe that Jesus came to show us the Father; He came to point us toward God. We see it written over and over again in scripture.
Hebrews 1:3 - “…(Jesus) who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power…”
John 14:9 - “Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
God wants us to behold Him, especially during the Christmas season, for who He is and the gift He’s made available to all of us–the greatest gift of eternal life–which isn’t just life after we leave our bodies; it begins the moment we believe and receive Him. From that point, we tap into a new way to live life.
Think about the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son–the greatest Christmas gift ever. But what does that verse even mean to us if we have lost the wow of this truth? God gave us Jesus; what a gift!
This season, as you revel in awe of the wow gift God’s given to us, how can you share this gift with the people in your world? in your circle? your family?
Aside from extending the invitation to enter a relationship with Christ to nonbelievers, what ways can we share God’s gift of Jesus with the people we love and our community at large?
God has given us the gift of His Son, the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. With Him, we will never walk alone. He will always, always be by our side. He’s a very present help in the time of trouble. God desires to be in relationship with us. That is a Wow! Behold! revelation we all need this Christmas season. As we behold Jesus, let’s strive to never lose the wow, the awe, the wonder, that comes from having a relationship with Him.
Father, thank You for Christmas time, when we can celebrate the birth of your son, who we declare as the Savior of the World. We are so thankful to know Jesus as our Savior and for Your great plan of redemption, your plan to bring us back into relationship with you. Lord our prayer this morning is that Jesus is exalted, that He’s lifted up, and that we’re drawn to Him. We pray this in Jesus’s name, Amen.