Christmas is celebrated in a multitude of ways around the world. In Mexico, for instance, homes are decorated with lilies, evergreens, and farolitos, little paper bags lit with candles—an inviting tradition we've continued where I live in New Mexico.
In fact, Christmas is all about an invitation. The beauty of the first Christmas gift, given so long ago in tiny Bethlehem, is that the invitation is for everyone, everywhere—or as the angel told the shepherds that historic night, "Good tidings of great joy which will be to all people" (Luke 2:10). The angel's birth announcement was an invitation to all humankind to receive the Savior.
It's noteworthy that Jesus was born not in a large city but in a backwater of the Roman Empire, far from the center of power and influence in Rome and a good walk from the religious epicenter of Jerusalem. He was born in Bethlehem not just because his father had to return to his family home to participate in a Roman census, but because God decreed it in Micah 5:2 and used Roman roads and Roman peace to fulfill it.
But Romans weren't the first to hear of this monumental birth. That honor was given to a group of shepherds. Think about it: the news of the greatest gift ever given came first to the most overlooked group in the empire. No one cared about shepherds. They were considered the lowest of the low, ceremonially unclean in the eyes of the Jewish religious leaders. They were the humblest and poorest of society.
This set the tone for the life Jesus lived. He regularly hung out with society's lowest classes. No one was beneath His notice—not shepherds, not lepers, and not the masses of overlooked women and children. When it came to His death, He wasn't crucified between two candles on an altar but between two thieves. And even in His agony, He forgave the thief who acknowledged Jesus' innocence and coming glory.
The message? Anyone can come to Christ at any point, even up to the point of death. The accessibility of Jesus is perhaps the most overlooked and unopened gift we have at Christmastime. Remember, He is Immanuel—"God with us" (Matthew 1:23). And the invitation the angel announced at His birth still stands today. Will you receive those "good tidings of great joy"? They're for everyone, everywhere—including you.