Happy Thursday! This week the Take Five blog has been exploring our favorite part of the nativity story. As we are getting closer and closer to the birth of Jesus, it is important to take a few minutes and highlight the circumstances surrounding the birth of Christ.
The Gospel of Luke gives us a detailed narrative of His birth. Let’s take a minute and read what Luke has to say:
“At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born” (Luke2:1-6)(NLT).
The next verse in the Gospel of Luke is the verse I would like to examine. “She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them” (Luke2:7) (NLT).
I’d like to translate that verse into everyday terms. Mary gave birth to Jesus, wrapped Him in some cloth and laid him in an animal feeding bowl. Take a few moments and let that verse sink in. We have the long awaited Messiah of the world born in a barn, wrapped in cloth, and His first bed is a filthy trough. That whole image is hardly fitting for the King of Kings.
Now the question arises, “Dave, why did you choose this aspect of the nativity narrative? I mean don’t you want to talk about the miracle of the virgin birth, the angels proclaiming the good news to the shepherds, or the wise men who visited from afar?” All those details are very interesting and important, but for me the details of His birth resonate the most to me.
There was nothing pretty about the birth place of Jesus. It was basically a smelly barn filled with livestock of various kinds. Jesus was born amongst the sheep, goats, and cattle. Again, this is hardly the place for the Messiah to be born. Shouldn’t the Messiah have been born in a palace, in a kingly manner, surrounded by other members of royalty? How could God allow His only begotten Son to be born in a barn? Didn’t Jesus deserve more?
All these questions made me ponder the circumstances a little further. To me, that verse gives me so much hope in life. My personal reflection on the humble beginnings of Christ led me to this encouraging conclusion. If Jesus Christ, the Lord of Lord, King of Kings, the Messiah can start His life, His ministry from the brink of obscurity, then why can’t we do the same? God could have very easily chosen the perfect married couple, living in a beautiful house in the suburbs as the perfect setting for His birth. Instead, God chose an unwed couple and the outskirts of Bethlehem as the ideal destination. Here is the conclusion that I drew from the manger. God doesn’t need everything to be perfect or the beginning to be perfect in order to save the world. God can use the adversity of life and the humble beginnings to bring joy to the world. So don’t worry if your life started off on the wrong foot. Don’t worry if you aren’t in a pretty situation. God likes to turn humble beginning into joyous endings. The key is to follow the example of the three wise men and allow God to be the guiding star in your life. If you put your life in His hands, I promise you His plans are perfect. Take a look at my favorite verse and decide for yourself. “’For I know the plans I have for you’ — this is the Lord’s declaration — ’plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope’” (Jeremiah29:11)(CSB).
The verse says the plan is perfect not the life. Don’t misconstrue that fact. The plan God has for our life is perfect. We just like to mess up the plan. There was only one man who was able to stick to the plan and live a perfect life. That is the same man who was born in the manger on the first Christmas day, Jesus.
Friends, I pray you allow the humble birth of Jesus to give you the hope in your life. I pray that you trust your life to God, who can take the most adverse situation in life and bring hope to it. I pray that you are comforted by the fact that it isn’t how you start life that matters, but it is how you finish life that impacts the world. I lift up your situation with prayer and offer you the hope of Christ. I extend to you the fact that God doesn’t need you to be perfect or be in the ideal situation to impact the world.
I hope the words of this blog give you a ray of hope and encouragement. As always, have a great week and hope you join us again.
- Spend some time today thinking about how Jesus’ life began and how God wants your life to end. It’s never too late to get back on the perfect path that God had planned for us!