Jesus Birth

December 25, 2016Luke 2:1 – 7  Jesus Birth  

     Philip Yancey writes in his book The Jesus I Never Knew (Zondervan, 1995).   In London, looking toward the auditorium’s royal box where the queen and her family sat, I caught glimpses of the way rulers stride through the world: with bodyguards, a trumpet fanfare, and a flourish of bright clothes and flashing jewelry.  Queen Elizabeth II had recently visited the United States, and reporters delighted in spelling out the logistics involved: her four thousand pounds of luggage included two outfits for every occasion, a mourning outfit in case someone died, forty pints of plasma, and white kid-leather toilet seat covers. She brought along her own hairdresser, two valets, and a host of other attendants. A brief visit of royalty to a foreign country can easily cost $20 million. By contrast, God’s visit to earth took place in an animal shelter with no attendants present and nowhere to lay the newborn King but a feed trough. Indeed, the event that divided history, and even our calendars, into two parts may have had more animal than human witnesses. A mule could have stepped on him. Anyone interested in a 20 million dollar trip? 

    I often wonder how angry God is with the crazy stuff that man is up to on earth.  I went out on the internet to check out expensive gifts for billionaires.   You can buy an 11 story floating island for 156 million dollars or rent a yacht for 2 million dollars for 1 week.   How about a pair of sun glasses for $383,000 made with gold but did not say anything about diamonds on them.   Two years from now you can fly into space with virgin galactic space flight for $200,000 but hurry because 450 of the 500 seats have been sold out already.  People will spend a great deal of money to have something unique or to own a one of a kind item.  I suppose it gives the person a sense of pride.  At the Matilda hospital in Hong Kong for a special hospital birthing room with a view you need spend $20,000 just for a deposit.    You have to book it at least 7 months in advance because they are sold out until then.  I wonder how they deal with early or late births or long deliveries.   For that price they will want to get full use of the room.     

    In Isaiah 55 we read seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.  Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts.   Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.   “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.   “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” 

   In what ways do you see Jesus and God as humble? 

   Jesus birth even by human standards was poor.  Perhaps we could say very poor.  There were not even basic accommodations there.  Ladies I am sure that you would like and expect a warm and comfortable room to have your baby in.   Couples would like to have water available and extra clean sheets.  It is nice to have attendants and staff available to check the baby out and care for the baby.   Meals brought to the room are nice.     

   God chose a different situation for his son even for the standards of those days.  God did not choose Rome for the birth of his son.   He did not choose a castle.   God chose a small town out of the way town which was off the beaten path.   Bethlehem was a not a great city.  We could easily believe those born in a city would at least be in a home or a room and most likely would have a mid wife there to attend.  In a sense Mary and Joseph were an imposition for those in Bethlehem.  As Christians we do not see Jesus as an imposition today. 

    There was nothing special about them to the town’s people but to God they were very important.  The innkeeper said well you can sleep out with the animals in the barn.   God made his announcement of Jesus birth in a humble lowly way certainly not the way that the rich would announce the birth of their child.    Yes the shepherds were told and later the magi would arrive to worship but Jesus birth was pretty well hidden from the rich and the elite.  Herod would later find out about it through the magi. 

     There was a great need for a place to stay for them.   Mary is great with baby.  They have probably traveled for 4 days or more over 70 miles on a donkey.  It was not a fun trip.   Today it is probably the most joyous and festive time of the year.  In the Philippines they start Christmas celebration as early as September by singing Christmas carols.  For children it is a time for presents.  For some it is a good meal and foot ball and beer. 

  But it was a different story then.  For Mary and Joseph it was a time of uncertainty.  It was their first child but Joseph was not the father.   There were lots of folks traveling perhaps 200,000 or more because to register and for taxes so it is no wonder the inn would be filled.   One person said it was every 14 years people had to travel back to the place of their roots.   Perhaps most of us would not have to travel very far but for me it would mean traveling to Michigan.  We know that people traveled in those days.  We see Paul’s missionary journeys.  The Christians were dispersed because of persecution.  There were Christians in Rome when Paul arrived.   

    In the fall of 1775, the manager of Baltimore's largest hotel refused lodging to a man dressed as a farmer. The manager thought that if he allowed him to stay there it would give a bad image to the inn. So the man left and found a room in another place. Shortly thereafter, the manager discovered that the man he had refused lodging was none other than Thomas Jefferson, then Vice President of the United States. So immediately he sent a note to Jefferson and invited him to return as his guest.  Jefferson instructed his messenger to relay this message: ''Tell him tell the innkeeper that I have already engaged a room. I value his good intentions highly, but if he has no place for a dirty American farmer, he has none for the Vice President of the United States.''   If today you have no room for the one who was born in a manger, the one who the Bible tells us never even had a place to lay his head. The one who was despised and rejected then you have no room for the Savior of this world. I want to ask you to make room today….right now. Will you do that? 

  One Solitary Life Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village.   He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty, and then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.   He never wrote a book.   He never held an office.   He never owned a home. He never set foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born.  He had no credentials but Himself.   While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies.  He went through the mockery of a trial.  He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves.

     His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth while He was dying -- and that was His coat. When He was dead, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.  Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone and today He is the centerpiece of the human race and the leader of progress.   I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever were built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as that One Solitary Life.  By James A. Francis