The world’s greatest treasure hunt

Published 7:00 am Saturday, December 2, 2023

By R.A. Mathews

Forty years ago, “Girls just want to have fun!” became a famous lyric for Cyndi Lauper. It’s been revived countless times for one reason or another, including now. 

When I hear those words, I think of angels. Certain events in history look like angels having fun.

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There’s the angel who ran a lottery and the one who toyed with Samson’s parents. There’s another instance of an angel who looks like he’s having fun—it happened at Christmas. 

The angel decided to have the world’s greatest treasure hunt, choosing only a select group of men to play. He then handed out clues. 

I am not making this up. Let me show you. See if you can find the clues. 

“…there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock at night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood near them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. And so the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;  for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’” (Luke 2:8-12) 

The angel obviously knew where Jesus was. The angel could have said, “He’s at Jimmy Blake’s house, corner of East and Main.” 

Why not? 

Some may say the angel was testing their faith. I agree. But it also looks like he was having some fun. 

Did you see the clues? This is what he says:

“…for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’” (Luke 2:11-12)

Three clues: “City of David,” “baby wrapped in swaddling cloth,” “lying in a manger.” That’s it. That’s all they get. No star. The wise men got the star. But that’s later on.

So, the world’s greatest treasure hunt begins. 

“City of David” is easy. That’s Bethlehem, right? 

Uh, no. 

David lived in Bethlehem as a boy, but “City of David” is “Jerusalem” in the Old Testament. Frankly, why even say “City of David”? Why not just say “Bethlehem”?

See what I mean? 

It looks like this angel is playing and deliberately trying to throw the men off. 

But they know their Scripture. Here’s the passage: “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah … from you One will come forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His times of coming forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.” (Micah 5:2)

They know the Christ will be born in Bethlehem, and that’s where they go. Scholars think there were about 300 to 1000 people living in Bethlehem at that time. What do the shepherds do when they get there? 

They remember another clue: Manger. 

So, that narrowed things down. Not some sweet baby crib; it was a feeding trough for animals. 

And not everyone had livestock. So, the shepherds would have gone from one owner of livestock in Bethlehem to the next. 

Last clue: A baby wrapped in swaddling cloth. 

Could it possibly be true? This wasn’t the boy Jesus or a full-grown man. They were looking for a baby. And you know the shepherds were thinking about that manger the whole time. The long-awaited Messiah, the one destined to lead Israel in a food trough?

But they find baby Jesus just so. And thus ends the world’s greatest treasure hunt. 

We are made in the image of a God of joy. My favorite picture of the Lord is “Jesus Laughing.” Why wouldn’t He have fun-loving angels? 

Delight in your faith. Treasure being with God. Know that He cares for you.

 And enjoy His sense of humor and fun.