Advent: Day Twenty
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace.—Micah 5:2-5a
Christmas is the story of God coming to unexpected places and unexpected people. Joseph and Mary, the carpenter and the poor girl, might have been voted The Couple Least-Likely to Parent the Savior, but there they were, heavily pregnant and on their way to the foretold town of Bethlehem. And let’s talk about this little town of Bethlehem—Micah called it “too little to be among the clans of Judah.” This place was small potatoes.
In terms of comfort for a pregnant woman of any era, it was primitive in the extreme. Obviously, there was no motorized transportation for the appointed couple. There’s no mention of a midwife for Mary. There were inns, but there was no room for Joseph and Mary, because the little town of Bethlehem was packed full. There was a barn, though. And with all the extra visitors in town for the census, it probably wasn’t empty. There is no amount of room deodorizer to mask the stench of livestock in tight quarters. Imagine the sights and smells that greeted the couple. Manure incense! Nativity sets are incomplete without it.
God the Son, the second part of the trinity, did not come for a comfy life. He came humbly to an unexpected place and to unexpected people. God, in His mercy, glory, and strength moves on the humble, the forgotten, the lowly, and He rescues them. There’s no way to be a follower of Jesus, to see the story of Christmas, and continue on as snobbish, judgmental jerks… But we, in our sin, all do. We all have people whom we consider “those people,” and we are considered “those people” by others.
Tim Keller writes, “The incarnation means that God was willing to empty Himself of His glory and power and live humbly as a servant. That means, among other things, that He became extremely ordinary in appearance. The incarnation should mean that Christians do not go on appearances; it should mean the end of our snobbery.
Christmas is THE END of us calling anyone “those people.”
All flesh stinks, no matter how much we cover it up with perfume and deodorant. We are all sinners by nature and choice. We could not get to heaven, so God came to earth, and instead of crushing all of us as we deserved, He humbly came to pursue us. We are meant to be a people who rejoice in the fact that God saved us and that He wants to save other people, no matter how much others might want to exclude some from participation.
Meditation: We must long for the day when we have more and more and more people in our church who had not felt welcome in other places. Christmas is the end of judging on appearances, the end of snobbery. It’s the end of arrogance and pride. It is God, in His humility, pursuing us when we didn’t even want Him.
Prayer: Dearest Jesus, thank you for leaving the luxuries of heaven and coming to earth to live an uncomfortable life among the stench of humanity, so that I might be saved. Thank you for coming to identify with us in our humanity so that we can follow your example in loving all people, regardless of looks, status, or connections. Humble my heart to see people the way You see them, and to love them the way You love them. Amen.