Inauspicious? You decide...
Taken from Luke 2:1-20. Read this as a start to this blog.
One thing that should impress about the Christmas story is how simple and ordinary it really is. In fact, what should capture us is the “insignificance”, maybe even the unseen.
We would call it today inauspicious... not conducive to success... the future is not promising.
Some might object by saying, “Insignificant?” How could the birth of the virgin-born Son of God be insignificant? I guess the answer lies in what we do with that.
John. 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Let’s see how Luke, the only Gentile (outsider) author of the NT, writes about the life of Christ and shows how God fills the seemingly insignificant with His presence and makes what would be mundane into the profound.
Luke wrote 27.5% of the NT, 38k out of 138K words... Paul 24.5%. This of course, assumes Paul is not the author of Hebrews. Hebrews is unidentified in its authorship. Some think it was Paul. I am inclined to think it was Barnabas who wrote Hebrews, or was the one God inspired to write Hebrews, since his name means "son of encouragement". Encouragement is a major theme in Hebrews.
Hopefully, as we have engaged with Biblical meditation, we have begun to grasp, or evolved further, in seeing how God uses the mundane to create something significant, powerful and deep.
it's easy to let the Christmas story fall into that realm of the "lullaby effect". You know, that which we hear over and over again yet not grasp the message nor the meaning.
Here are three things to consider about this "inauspicious", yet most dramatic of all events in human history since creation.
I. Ordinary Places.
The “happening” places of the world were Rome and Syria. People who ruled others lived there, and that mattered. No one cared much about Palestine, tucked away in a small pocket of the Roman empire.
Our story sets its focus on little places:
*Bethlehem—granted, the City of David, but not all that important in terms of size and clout. Today, Bethlehem is part of the West Bank... it’s not even part of Israel
*Nazareth—and even Nathaniel asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).
*A manger—a common cow trough but mentioned three times in our text.
Ironic is it not, the bread of life is essentially birthed into a feeding trough for animals
*Fields—where shepherds watch flocks and where they lived. Not even a regular physical dwelling themselves. Christ is born, “down on the farm.”
When God comes near all the little places become big!
II. Ordinary People.
The important people of the world were mentioned in v. 1 & 2: Caesar Augustus and Quirinius.
*They were the movers and shakers. When they spoke people listened.
*They could call for taxes and the word was, “So let it be done.”
*People had to get up and go so they could stand up and pay
Who are our people here?
*A young poor couple from Nazareth—Mary and Joseph.
1 Cor. 1:26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.
When God comes near all the little people suddenly matter!
III. Ordinary Events.
The event that would makes news was taxes—it still does.
The birth of a baby? Not so much... that is a very ordinary event
For the disciples though, this is anything but ordinary:
*There’s the matter of all the fulfilled prophecy, written centuries before Christ
*There’s the matter of the virgin conception and birth
*There’s the matter of the impact of Christ even in the world today, disciple or not
God starts to save the world with the birth of a baby. Babies are born every day.
Is 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
When God comes near all little events take on amazing power!
For the Gospel written for the outsider this was very good news. Christmas announces that all places, all people, and all events matter to God.
Hebrews says that Christ had “to share in our humanity” (Hebrews 2:14). So, all can relate to this Christ. We are without excuse. He is truly a man for all seasons!
Not only did Christ share in our humanity, He demonstrated the ultimate presence of being human, while being fully in step with the Father...
*if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the father
*if you have heard me speak, you have heard the father
*if you have seen me in action, you have seen the father
2 Cor 4:18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Cor 5:7 We live by faith, not by sight
John 14:23-24 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
Christmas is far less a birth story, and far more a presence story. God is with us... Immanuel...
Let this drive every thought, every word, every deed… God is with US! God is with YOU!
V. 14-“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Upon realizing that, how did these ordinary shepherds respond?
V.20-The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Hardly inauspicious. Wouldn't you agree?