1997-12-25 - Why This Way?
Christmas Day - 1997
Luke 2:4-7 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, 5 in order to register, along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. 6 And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (NAS)
There are many places where God shows His wisdom as His plan unfolds. There are other places where we are left with questions. Some of these questions will not be answered until we see Jesus face-to-face and know all things as He has promised us. Surely, there might be a way that makes more sense to us in some cases, at least right now. Not the least of which is the arrival of the King of Kings to Earth two millennium ago.
Imagine the shuffle of a donkey's feet through the crowded streets of Bethlehem. Mary had probably already had her first warning contractions before they entered the city. Joseph probably delayed leaving as long as possible to save a few extra mites and perhaps spare Mary the fate of child birth away from home. It was not to be, in order to fulfill the prophecy of the location of the Messiah's birth.
Tiny Bethlehem was crammed to the gills. People where sleeping in the streets, making due with whatever they had around them. Joseph must have gone to more than one inn before he met the innkeeper who gave them shelter. His act of kindness has been recorded for the ages to see. Was it the sight of Joseph's worried, pleading face, or Mary in pain as her contractions intensified? The best Joseph could have hope for was a place on the floor in the inn's common room. A private room would have been unthinkably expensive. This innkeeper may have done this young couple the greatest service by offering them a quiet stable where they could rest. They would be away from the crowds and reveling in relative safety.
We do not even know that she had not already had delivered the child. She was inside the city. It may have been all Joseph could do to spread his coat to shield Mary in an alley from prying eyes and the cold wind as she gave birth to her Son. She would have been a teenage girl, possibly away from home at a distance for the first time without her parents. What a time. It may have been the scene of an exhausted new mother with her minutes or hours old child bundled in her arms that prodded the kind innkeeper to offer whatever he could.
When a King is born today, and even in that day, it was done with proclamation to the heads of state and to the masses. Only the lowly shepherds were told of the birth of the long awaited Messiah. Mother and child today receive a great deal of care usually in good medical facilities. Mary and Jesus had none of this, not even a proper room. No family around to help with this first birth. Mary must have been terrified at times. What had the angel said? Did I dream it all? I'm certain Joseph did what he could, but what a situation. There were no carriages to whisk this King back to His palace. It does not even exist in this time and space.
It sounds like utter, unplanned chaos. It rattles my finite mind to comprehend what Mary and Joseph had gone through during this trip and in the months before. Mary must have been a virtual pariah and Joseph was "crazy to stay with her" by all accounts. It was only Joseph's steadfast love and the assurance of God to him that kept Mary from being stoned to death. Mary had found favor with God and was honored with the place as the vessel through which Jesus would enter the world, time and space to redeem us. What a thought, that a peasant girl would attain such a station. What hearts for God these two young people must have had.
Would I have seen fit to plan the arrival of King Jesus this way if it had been me planning? No. Thankfully, I did not do the planning.
Luke 2:17-18 And when they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. (NAS)
The exhausted new parents would entertain their first guests who sought their Son, who was only hours old. The stories of the angelic announcement must have been a balm to the hearts of this young couple. The excitement of the shepherds and their adoration of their child, a child Mary and Joseph would have to share with the world, was more comfort than they could express. The relative anonymity of the birth allowed the family to escape to Egypt when the life of the baby was threatened. Jesus entered the Temple at age twelve and astonished the Elders and exited quietly without fanfare. The Lord was able to fulfill prophecies concerning His baptism and select and begin to teach His disciples without a lot of attention. The wisdom of God only begins to unfold.
The entrance of Jesus into history to redeem mankind, you and me, was a miracle of grace, a miracle of child-birth, and a miracle of divine selection and planning. God maneuvered the people and things into place, and it happened just as He had drawn it out in eternity past. Sometimes the wisdom of God is beyond our reason. I doubt it is ever completely clear to us. There are shadows and folds and nuances that are past the capacity of our finite minds. But, we are often shown enough to know that He is utterly trustworthy, and absolutely in control.
Luke 2:19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. (NAS)
The greatest miracle of all is given to those who have accepted this child as their Savior. Share the gift of peace with God and love for His creations with those around you as the shepherds did. Treasure these things as Mary did and ponder them as well. Merry Christmas.
Father, The gift of Your Son is beyond our knowing. We are thankful for the glimpses we are given of Your wisdom. Lord Jesus, Your sacrifice to come and live among us is staggering. Your love is shown deeply in Your coming, and Your crucifixion; which is why You came. Holy Spirit, Thank You for opening our hearts to the good news of salvation. Keep us mindful of the priceless, limitless treasure our earthen vessels hold. Amen.