An Old Story with a New Light
The number seven in the Bible is symbolic of completion or perfection. Seven candles, seven characters of the perfect Christmas story.
The three smallest candles remind us of three individuals that are key characters that provide compelling Christmas story. Mary was a young peasant girl overlooked by most of society but captured God’s attention. As a young woman from a godly family her greatest virtues were her innocence, humility and purity (Luke 1:26-38). And it was the apparent loss of those virtues that introduced one of the Bible’s most dramatic stories. When she set out to convince her fiancé Joseph that the child she was carrying was from God. Joseph chose to “set her aside” or divorce her quietly. The lawful reaction would have been to have her stoned for infidelity. But Joseph’s compassion overruled his sense of justice. Possibly his greatest virtue though was the faith demanded of him to heed the Angel’s message to take Mary unto himself and name the Child Jesus (Matt. 1:18-25). In contrast of character there is a third individual, King Herod, who lied to the Wise men. Being driven by jealousy he murdered all the boys in the Bethlehem region under the age of two in effort to keep the child-king from taking away his throne (Matt. 2:1-18).
These mid-sized candles represent three groups that were the first to hear and respond to the Good News of Jesus’ Birth. For nearly two years three Wise Men from the east (Matt. 2:1-2) armed with the words of the Hebrew prophets and a curiosity that only astrologists can understand (Num. 24:17). They set out to follow the star until they found the Christ child which was destined to be a King. These men represent wise men from other nations that are wise enough to seek the truth and foolish enough to believe the gospel truth when they find it. It was their gifts that supported the family in exile in Egypt. They symbolized Jesus' royalty, suffering, and priesthood. While all the world was scurrying to meet the demands of Augustus Caesar’s Roman world census all of the Heavenly Host stood to their feet to declare to the Shepherds (Luke 2:18-14) the good news for all mankind. The Shepherds were outcasts of the world at the time, but counted as most blessed and “the first to know” of the Christ-child’s birth.
The largest candle in the center representing the smallest individual of the story, the baby Jesus, deity wrapped in humanity. Completely God, and totally human. The Creator of heaven and earth lying in a feeding trough for cattle. The Savior of the world that would pay the price none of us could afford, taking up residence in a borrowed barn. The fresh breeze on earth and the Breath of Heaven! Certainly Jesus is the center, the best, and the biggest part of the story!
Seven candles, seven characters, a perfect story. No one that wishes to be included is left out of this story. Jewish shepherds close by and gentile Wise Men from a far, everyone is welcome. Whosoever will, may come! But just like Joseph and Mary, you will not leave the same as you came. And just like Herod, no pride or wickedness will be allowed to stay. The baby grew to live perfectly, love fully, die completely, and be raised to new life eternally. Now that all the candles are lit, you know the truth, and the truth will set you free. Merry Christmas to All!