One of the greatest things about the Christmas story is how it ushered in a new kingdom, one of grace over the law, and one of forgiveness of sin. It took God, made Him a man, and used the sacrifice of that life to cover the sin of all mankind. Christmas means the birth of our Savior, and most are familiar with that as the plot and reason for the season. But did you know there’s more? There’s a bit of scandal that religion would want you not to notice, but I think it’s a piece of the story that God really needs you to hear.
We find the prelude of the birth of Jesus during a time when religious law was held very high. We required the church building, and we required the priest if there was hope to be found. You needed things like a perfect lamb without blemish. An animal so white that it resembled snow. You needed to hand over this sacrifice, and then the priest could convert your sin onto the animal, shedding its blood for you. You needed the priest, you needed the temple, and you needed the Holy of Holies. Considering the importance of the religious leaders of the time, who were experts in the scriptures, by the way, it only makes since that God would deliver His son on their doorstep. I mean, we’re talking about the saving of mankind, forgiveness of sin, and eternal life! Who better to handle the task of Jesus coming to earth, of Immanuel, God with us, than an important religious leader?
This life-changing event would require much fanfare. Perhaps something akin to a limo, with paparazzi and flashing lights. We’d want the announcement made almost like a presidential address, right? Give the details to a high-ranking official to announce over a loud speaker, with a parade, and vendors selling frankincense and myrrh in little gift bags for the crowd to hand out. Release some doves to symbolize peace on earth, and pass a plate for the ultimate love offering.
I know they didn’t have the renown childbirth centers we have nowadays, but there were plenty of skilled midwives. There were palaces with fluffy bedding and golden cribs made just perfect for a king! Yet it didn’t go down like that at all.
A young virgin from nowhere’s-ville was chosen to be the mom. She didn’t have an important last name, come from a rich family, or even a fancy degree in theology. Considering she was being asked to carry and raise God in the flesh, she was basically a nobody, nothing, from Nazareth of all places! And her husband? I think he built bookcases or something tradesy like that.
When the time came for the Prince to be born the birth announcement came in the form of a Heavenly host of angels. Now that’s more like it! But then they stopped short of taking their song to the temple. They instead stopped off in a field.
Shepherds, y’all! Sheep herders! The lowest of the low. The bottom barrel, basically. Did you know shepherds were not even allowed to testify in a court case in their day? Talk about an untrustworthy witness. So why choose those guys?!
And then there’s the birthing suite! As a woman who has gone through childbirth three times I can tell you, animal excrement ain’t the smell you want assaulting your sinuses. How about some lavender for goodness sake?! But no. The Savior of mankind was born in a feeding trough, with no electricity, no cable television, and definitely no doula. No cutesy lullaby over a loud speaker. Instead he probably got mooed at or something. It’s really quite scandalous! The king of a hundred fields, with a mansion that has enough room for everybody entered the earth under such paltry circumstances, into a family without riches and fame. The church couldn’t even send flowers because somebody forgot to tell the head pastor the virgin wife of that carpenter fella was in labor. The whole thing could be considered pretty embarrassing if you think about it. I mean, other than some prophet 700 years prior, God didn’t even tell any of the church leaders about His son’s arrival.
Here’s the thing, though. The birth of a King in a manger isn’t the really scandalous part. It’s not even that He chose to tell dudes in a pasture the news first, or pick a regular-joe family to raise His son. The truly sordid secret is what it means for you. Not because it’s disreputable or improper, but rather because of how surprised we often seem when we take it into account. You see, the really wild part about the Story of Christmas and how it came to be is what all that means for you and me right this moment. It means we are worthy.
The details of Christmas should show you that God can take a seemingly nobody and use them as a great somebody. It means, He doesn’t require perfection, but rather a willing heart.
Luke 1:38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”
The way God took the greatest news of all time and asked the lowest of society to tell everyone shows us that while here on earth you may be seen as less, in the greatness of His kingdom, you are worthy to go tell it on the mountain!
The way God let His son be born in a barn, that should tell you that God cares about more than how much money your family has, what kind of car you drive, or the house you own. He cares about the heart, and He can take a person from the lowest pit to the highest place imaginable.
He can use a young lady from Nazareth to further His kingdom, a tradesman to raise His boy, and shepherds to announce the whole shabang. With that in mind, realize that He can certainly use you.
I was leaving a shop yesterday when I saw a poorly dressed, older man playing a guitar and singing. A jug tied to a pole held a couple of dollar bills. Of course, I dropped some in there myself, but more than that I stayed and listened to him play. I gave him my time, my interest, and my applause. I knew that his earthly dad may have never given him a bit of praise, but His Heavenly Father loved to hear him sing and play. I saw that man through the eyes of Jesus, and I took the time to pray with him between sets. It reminded me that you don’t have to be a preacher or involved in ministry to do the work of God. The Lord is ready to use anyone of us ordinary people at any given moment. It might seem quite scandalous to think that is true, but I believe the best thing we can take from the Christmas Story, beyond the birth of a Savior, is how God can use any of us to further His kingdom purposes, in a most unique and perfect way.