Tradition is one of those things we accept and often never question. Let me share the story where the mother was preparing a roast and cut the ends off before putting it in the pan. Her daughter asked her why she cut the ends off the roast before she put it in the pan. The mother thought for a while and said it was how her mother always prepared her roasts. When the grandmother was asked why she cut the ends off the roast, she said that she had to cut the ends off to make it fit in the pan. For years, the tradition of cutting off the ends of the roast was never questioned. The Christmas story is somewhat like this … we accept the story, receive the message of Christmas, and move on.
Yet, Christmas is a bizarre event. Everything about the first Christmas was unique and kind of quirky. The teenager who was engaged to be married gets pregnant. Can you imagine how this was explained? Worse yet, everyone knew the story was not true. Joseph was a good man, but even good men can be betrayed. His reaction to a pregnant girlfriend was quite a leap of faith, even after the angel visited him with a message of assurance. Angels were busy assuring Mary and Joseph that this pregnancy was a divine event and not to worry because God ordained it. Now, you must admit, this was bizarre! Why were a teenage girl and a carpenter the main narrative in a story that involves the God of the universe? Then there were shepherds who were also visited by an angel, telling them of the good news that a Savior was born that night. Wasn’t that a bit much? If you are going to herald the coming of a King, why tell shepherds of all people? What made them so special that they were the first to know about the birth of this child?
The story continued in this bizarre way when Mary gave birth to this child in an animal stable and used a feeding trough as her bassinet. How can this story be any more bizarre for the arrival of a Savior? Not only was the beginning a bit weird, then as a young toddler, this young family had to flee the country to save this child’s life. The wise men played a part in this story when they arrived in Bethlehem to honor this child. They were probably men whose past ancestors were Rabbi's taken captive during the Babylonian captivity. They were aware of the prophecies that foretold of a someday messiah and knew the story told by Isaiah the prophet, that a child would be given.
Isaiah 9 7For a child is born to us; a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 8His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!
So, this is who was born into the world that night in Bethlehem. This child whose life was eternal and who would be the ruling entity in His Kingdom on earth forever. Isaiah’s description of this child is just as bizarre as the rest of the story that took place that night in Bethlehem. How could God allow these bizarre circumstances to be the main narrative of how God becomes flesh and dwells among us? It just doesn’t make sense that the creator of the universe would want His story to be associated with a stable, His bed being an animal feeding trough, and fleeing for His life as He was hunted as an enemy of an earthly king. Bizarre, bizarre, and more bizarre.
It was a bizarre day. Yet, the magnitude of this birth was not only miraculous, it was also in character with how God wants us to know Him. He could have been born in a palace, the son of a prominent leader in the land. He could have been born with the fanfare due a king, yet that was not the message of His birth. He was born to be one of us common everyday people. He was born to people of unknown reputations, simple people whose names were not associated with wealth or power. He had humble beginnings, a simple lifestyle, and lived in obscurity until the time for Him to be known.
Known He was. He preached the coming of God's Kingdom and told the truth about the waywardness and deception of the religious system in His day. He healed the sick, cast out demons, and raised the dead. Miracle after miracle, this man whose beginning was in a stable and a manger, did what God had sent Him to do.
That night in Bethlehem God showed us who He was. Although He was the creator of all things, He came to be a servant, a Savior to all humanity. This child represented His mercy, His compassion, and His faithfulness which describes the character of God. He came because He promised He would. He fulfilled the promise of salvation for all … as Jesus said, “It is finished.” He gave us His presence, His Word, and His promise to return and forever bring His Kingdom to earth.
Yes, the story is bizarre, but its message is a miracle and a miracle to be remembered. All miracles are bizarre, out of the ordinary, out of our control, and out of reach … unless God enters the story and that is where true miracles begin.
Christmas is a bizarre miracle, and God is to be praised for His kindness, His mercy, and His provision for us by entering the world as He did on that night in Bethlehem.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler