One of the glories of the Christmas season is contemplating the wondrous miracle of Jesus’ birth. He had a rather inauspicious start, however. Most likely he would have been considered an illegitimate child by those who were aware of Mary’s marital status at the time. He was born in an animal shelter in a feeding trough. He and his parents became refugees right at the start of his life on earth. He was essentially homeless for the first years of his life until his family settled in Nazareth.
As he grew up, he learned the carpentry trade from his father—a good trade, but nothing influential or strategic. He was also not a handsome man by Isaiah’s description (Is. 53:2-3). He didn’t have the outward appearance or stature of a future king (compare this to Saul and/or David, for example). In fact, for the first thirty years of his life, few people beyond his relatives and local townspeople would have even known of him. He was just a “regular, working guy.”
But there were miracles all along the way, unnoticed by most people, but miracles nonetheless which pointed to the divine nature of this baby boy. There was the virgin birth. And what about the miracle in the shepherd’s fields? How was it possible that no one but the shepherds saw the brilliant light of the angel of God and the singing of the heavenly choir that wondrous Christmas night? It was surely a miraculous providence of God to reveal Jesus’ birth to the lowly shepherds alone. He also chose to reveal his birth to some Wise Men from a far away land and then led them directly to Jesus’ home by the miracle of the star.
Once he began his public ministry at age thirty, his true identity became much clearer—at least for those who had eyes to see and ears to hear. Even then, he still did not fit the image most people had for a king. Yes, he could perform miracles himself, but he wasn’t acting in a kingly manner, as most would have expected. In fact, he was ultimately killed, in part, because he didn’t fulfill the expectations of the people for their long-awaited king.
So as we celebrate the amazingly humble entrance of Jesus Christ into humanity this week, don’t leave him in the feeding trough. Don’t continue to think of Jesus as “baby Jesus.” He is the Lord of the universe who humbled himself by becoming human. He remained humble and lowly throughout his entire life on earth and then suffered the ultimate humiliation on the cross.
However, that quaint, humble image of Jesus is not who he is now. He is the risen, glorified Christ, the Lord of all creation, ruling in power and authority over all things. He is the one on whom we cannot look without falling on our faces in worship and holy fear. He is the one who will return one day to visibly and tangibly reclaim all that is rightfully his—including us! May we all worship this Jesus this Christmas.
Merry Christmas, dear friends!
Bethlehem College & Seminary
1. Please pray for our students, faculty and staff as they rest and recover from a busy semester.
2. Please keep praying for the upcoming Bethlehem Conference for Pastors and Church Leaders in January. Pray that all the planning would work out and that it would be very well attended. We are encouraged!
3. Pray also for the admissions process for next year’s class that is in full swing right now. We have more applicants than ever before and the job of sifting through these applications requires great wisdom and discernment.
4. Please also pray for our finances as we finish up December. As you know, this is the most important month of the year for giving. Pray with us that the Lord would raise up many more contributors so that we may be able to cover all of the Serious Joy Scholarships for this year. Let’s ask Him to bless us far beyond what we could reasonably hope for!