You will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger. Luke 2:126

Two key characters were suddenly missing from our little town’s nativity scene—Mary and the baby Jesus. I did a doubletake as I drove by. My first thought was to put out a missing person’s report with the local authorities, but then I didn’t quite know what I’d say. Everyone was there, but the two. We’d just had a terrible windstorm, so maybe they’d been blown away. Then again, perhaps criminal activity was at play, and someone stole them (as strange as that may sound). Either way, the nativity scene simply wasn’t the same without them and especially without Him.

The characters in the birth narratives of Jesus are important in that they all played vital roles in the unfolding story: Joseph, a “descendant of King David” (Luke 2:4); Mary, “to whom he was engaged” and “expecting a child” (v. 5); the shepherds, “guarding their flocks” (v. 8), and a radiant “angel of the Lord” (v. 9). But the focus of the entire scene, the key to Christmas, the “sign” on which everything else depended way back then and still today is “the Messiah, the Lord . . . [the] baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger” (vv. 11–12).

Our lives and the roles we play in the ongoing narrative of God’s redemption story are vitally important. But the main character was and is and always will be our beautiful Savior, Christ the Lord. He’s no longer the baby but the King who reigns forever and ever. John Blase

Which of the human characters in the nativity do you resonate with the most? What can you do this season and throughout the year to ensure that Christ stays the centerpiece of your life?

Jesus, thank You for inviting me into Your grand story. Help me as I seek to live so that all glory and honor always goes to You.

Luke 2:1–12

1 At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. 4 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5 He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7 She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. 8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”