“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’” (Luke 2:4-15 NIV)
Frenetic activity ensued inside and out of our new home two weeks ago as our group of volunteers unloaded all of our earthly possessions. Cars lined the quiet street of our neighborhood leading one neighbor to drive by, wondering if someone had died. The elderly lady living behind us called the woman next door to us in a panic, wondering about the work in the yard that we had already begun. The man living on the other side of us wondered, “So who exactly is going to live here?” Yes, it seems, our arrival in the neighborhood created quite a stir!
As I read about the birth of Jesus, it never ceases to amaze me how little of a stir the arrival of the Messiah, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Savior of the world, created. When Immanuel, God with us, arrived in the neighborhood, the neighbors barely noticed.
Imagine the President paying a visit to your neighborhood. Streets would be blocked off and a motorcade of probably a dozen or more vehicles would roll down the street. Everyone would know something big was happening. And, of course, there would be advanced notice. The VIP’s and the press would be there en masse. It would create quite a stir.
Yet, when Immanuel was about to arrive, the place prepared to receive Him was an old barn out back behind a small motel. And after He arrived, the only notice given was to a group of lower-class men whose job it was to guard the sheep of wealthy ranchers. Not exactly what you would expect for such a momentous event pertaining to such a momentous individual. Yet, it does tell us much about the One we call Lord.
Jesus came to our world, our neighborhood, not to lord it over us or to demand attention respective to His status. Instead, He came to live among us, shedding His glory, so we could better understand whom God truly is. It speaks volumes as to the character of God that He would arrive in such a mundane way.
Typically, people of status seek the perks and attention that come with their exalted position. Kings, politicians, celebrities, and the wealthy arrive in style and live in luxury. That is normal, expected, and admired. But God did the opposite. He arrived without fanfare and to a place where only livestock were expected to stay.
So what shall we conclude about this? It seems to me the Lord set for us an example of humility from the very beginning. Though He deserved everything for Himself, He demanded nothing. Though He was Lord of all, He humbled Himself and became a servant to all. He put aside His rights for the sake of a greater purpose. There is much to learn from His example and that is exactly what He intended.
Today, and in the coming weeks, as you reflect on the birth of Jesus and its meaning, consider its implications for your life. Be prepared though, it may cause within you quite a stir.
© Jim Musser 2014