“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.”
Therefore Israel will be abandoned
until the time when she who is in labor bears a son,
and the rest of his brothers return
to join the Israelites.
He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth.
Yesterday, we talked about the glorious arrival of God. Here is the mystery of a God who comes in awe and might to conquer all sin, death, and evil in the birth of a baby…born like you and me. Mary experienced the cursed birth pains as she delivered the Son who would set all free from the penalty of sin. Jesus was born like you and me, amidst chaos. In the moments after His birth, He had to be cleaned and swaddled. In the coming days, He had to learn to receive nourishment from His mother through breastfeeding. He had diapers that needed to be changed. He likely fell asleep tied to His parents as they walked home. The One who would walk on water had to learn to walk like the rest of us, stumbling, crawling, and clinging to our father’s pinkies. Jesus was a vulnerable, dependent child. The phrase of the angels, “born this day”, must alarm the senses when we allow it to sink in—Savior in a swaddle.
One of my favorite authors and the original “ragamuffin,” Brennan Manning, writes this about the mystery and our response:
Pious imagination and nostalgic music rob Christmas of its shock value, while some scholars reduce the crib to a tame theological symbol. But the [humble and needy] at the stable tremble in adoration of the Christ-child and quake at the inbreak of God Almighty. Because all the Santa Clauses and red-nosed reindeer, fifty-foot trees and thundering church bells put together create less pandemonium than the infant Jesus when, instead of remaining a statute in the crib, he comes alive and delivers us over the life that he came to light.
We hope in a Child. We hope a helpless baby can restore all things, even us. God plans with purpose, from centuries past, for this child to overcome the world.
Do We Reflect Our Savior’s Humility and Power in Our Lives?
In Acts 2, we find ordinary people sharing meals in homes while surrounded by “signs and wonders”. In 1 Timothy, Paul commends us to “live such quiet and simple lives among the gentiles”. In Peter’s eloquent passage on suffering and serving Christ in his first letter, he quickly adds, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
The incarnation of humble hope in Jesus calls us into a life of humility and hope, too. As Christ came into our world, so should we enter our neighborhoods living ordinary lives with an extraordinary hope.
Would your neighbors observe a humble people with a quiet strength? Would they see people marked by the humble and awe-inspiring arrival of the King of glory? Or, which is often the case, would they find frantic Christians coming to and from their house living a busy life at a church building?
Does your life demonstrate a Good News which comes in the form of a dependent baby and a mighty King?