Come, Thou Long Unexpected Jesus

Why Christ's incarnation is just as surprising today as it was 2,000 years ago.

When I was a child in Sunday school, my image of Christ was of a tall man with long, flowing hair—a handsome, rugged man with a gentle smile. He was always carrying a very white lamb perched peacefully on his shoulders. But that's not how the prophet Isaiah described the Messiah: "He has no form or comeliness; And when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him" (Isaiah 53:2).

Nothing about the arrival or appearance of Christ was expected.

Through Their Eyes

Imagine you are in Jerusalem on the night of Christ's birth, and Jerusalem is crowded. The area around the temple is mobbed with people standing shoulder to shoulder, staring straight up into the sky.

"What are you looking at?" you ask.

"Nothing, I'm waiting," is the sharp reply.

"Waiting for what?" you want to know.

"Not what; it's who! We're waiting for the arrival of the Messiah."

You slip away from the mass of impatient men and women jockeying for a better position and head out into the countryside southwest of Jerusalem. It's quiet now, peaceful. You gaze up at the stars and are amazed that they seem so bright, so close, in the crisp night air. There's one in particular that's so bright it cuts through the darkness like a brilliant lantern. You follow. You walk about five miles and find yourself in the small town of Bethlehem.

"Nice night!" you say to a small group of shepherds as you catch up with them. You mean to ask them if they know of a good place to stay, but they're in a hurry, so you just follow. You arrive at a small barn and reason that they must be looking for shelter for themselves.

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May 25

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