Often our picture is of Mary looking serene and peaceful just after giving birth in a stable. Is that what it was really like?
In the account of the first Christmas in the Bible there is a disruption at work. This is a scandalous, almost unbelievable event. Mary and Joseph must face the shame and derision of family and neighbours who think their story of a miraculous pregnancy is a cover-up or a lie to hide a terrible secret.
As a result of this prejudice and the gossip that was circulating in her home town, Mary traveled to Bethlehem with Joseph. Joseph needed to go to Bethlehem to register for the Roman census. A male head of the household would have sufficed for a census. Mary didn’t need to be in Bethlehem at the time Jesus was to be born. Maybe Joseph brought her there to spare her the ignominy of childbirth in her home village. The result was baby Jesus was born, far from home, with no midwife, no extended family or village chorus present.
The hope of the world would be born into these most scandalous of circumstances.
It seems like God orchestrated the most humiliating circumstances possible for his entrance. Small towns don’t treat kindly children of questionable paternity. The birth of Christ was not sanitised. Apart from the stable, there was the paranoid King Herod. The king who set in motion a massacre of innocents when he heard that the Messiah had been born. It was a hostile environment.
Jesus and his family were forced to flee and live as refugees in Egypt for the early part of his life because of the politics of the day.
What makes this so interesting is that Jesus could have come any way he liked into the world. This was not just a terrible run of circumstances Jesus was born into. This was the way it was intended. This raises the question of why God worked this way and what does this tell us about Him?
Could it be humility. You see, the God of the universe did not come to impress us with displays of His power. There was no whirlwind or fanfare. It was just God going to extraordinary lengths to enter our world, to understand our predicament, our difficulties, our prejudices first hand and to start a journey that would lead Him to a cross, where He would take on the consequences of all that we have done to separate us from Him.
This Christmas season as you think about the baby in a manger, maybe take some time to think about the humble God of the universe that entered into our world.