Luke 2:11-14: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Camping out in the desert under the Middle Eastern skies were local shepherds. For days on end, they would work and sleep outdoors, allowing the flock to graze on the steep slopes at daytime and guarding their open sheepfolds from predators at night. Desert nights could be quite cold. They most likely had a fire burning while taking turns in their night watch when, all of a sudden, night turned into day.

In a flash of light, angels from heaven showed up. They came with exciting news: “The Messiah is born!” – Startled, some shepherds fell to the ground, while others just stood and stared trying to decide whether or not this was a dream. One of the shepherds had the presence of mind to ask: “The Messiah is born? Here, in this neighborhood? Where would we find him?” The angels replied: “You will find the baby sleeping in a feeding trough.” Then, as sudden as they had appeared, the angels vanished leaving the stunned shepherds with the invitation to go and see the Messiah. Armed with a very good clue – baby sleeping in farm equipment is a good one – the shepherds went to meet Jesus.

Meanwhile, Mary, Joseph and their newborn rested in their quarters. Their long and treacherous journey had been topped off by Mary’s going into labor. The couple must have been exhausted, but were probably too excited to go to sleep right away. Gazing at their baby in wonder, many questions must have gone through their minds.

Out of the blue, there was a knock on the barn door. The door quickly opened and closed, and stepping inside came a group of complete strangers. They identified themselves as local shepherds. Apparently, they had listened to angel reports – how else would they have known about a baby sleeping in the manger? Nobody could have guessed that. And how would they know that Mary had just given birth to an extraordinary baby, unless God had chosen to reveal it to them?

I believe God still speaks to us through signs and clues. We all can have our divine moments. However, we need to pay attention. God may have been speaking to us all along, but we were too busy to notice. Although at times God can be very obvious (it’s hard to overlook a host of angels), I believe most of the time He is more subtle. And if we pick up on God’s language, we will have a story to share – one of the best stories from God’s point of view is the story how we met Him. As we continue to pick up on God’s way of communicating we will find that our story has just begun.

Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

During Prophet Isaiah’s lifetime the home country of the Jews was divided between the kingdom of Judah and the kingdom of Israel. The split happened right after King Solomon had died, and ever since the two kingdoms had been at odds.

Now Judah’s King Ahaz was threatened by Israel’s King Pekah. King Pekah made an alliance with the Syrian King to overturn the kingdom of Judah. Naturally, King Ahaz became extremely anxious about the impending war.

In this situation God spoke words of encouragement to King Ahaz and the people of Judah by saying that the planned invasion of Israel and Syria won’t happen. And in order to confirm the prophecy, God asked King Ahaz to request a sign from Him. For reasons unknown to us, King Ahaz refused to do so. His official statement (Isaiah 7:12):

“But Ahaz said, ‘I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.’”

Here is Isaiah’s response to King Ahaz’s reaction (Isaiah 7:13-14a):

“Then Isaiah said, ‘Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:’”

So, the Lord insisted on choosing a sign, since this was not really just about King Ahaz but about every son and daughter of Adam and Eve. And here is the sign God chose (Isaiah 7:14):

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

Virgins don’t get pregnant, so this is obviously a supernatural phenomenon. Also, the name of the virgin’s son is very remarkable: “I Am with you” contains God’s name “I Am”. What would you think God is suggesting with this kind of name choice other than bestowing His family name to the baby, thus implying that a pregnant virgin will give birth to the Son of God.

When Virgin Mary gave birth to a baby boy 700 years later, Isaiah’s stunning prophecy was fulfilled.

The virgin birth stands out and is different from any other demonstration of God’s involvement in human history. Supernatural phenomena such as stopping the Sun in its tracks or parting the Red Sea show God’s unlimited power. God born into a human family, Mary’s and Joseph’s family, shows His desire to be near us, so near that He becomes our relative. This very special relative of ours has a name: “The One who saves”, aka Jesus.