The Greatest Gift
The arrival of a king
I imagine the night of Jesus’ birth would be described as anything but silent as Mary and Joseph rushed to Bethlehem, along with thousands of Jews, to be counted in the Roman Census. As the story goes, Joseph found space in a stable that was owned by a local innkeeper, and it was there that Mary gave birth to the Savior. The savior of the world is ushered in by miracles, angels, and vision. However, His first appearance to us was in the back of a dirty stable, in a small town east of Jerusalem.
As Mary brought Him into the world, I often wonder if Mary and Joseph ever realized the origins of this child. This baby was no ordinary one. Before He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb, He stood on the edge of the universe as it’s Creator. By the words of His mouth, planets came together and stars exploded with brilliant light across the vast emptiness of space. He was there amongst the Father and Holy Spirit when they decided to make man in their own image. The fiercest angels bowed their knees to His voice, His greatest enemies trembled at the mention of His name, and no power in the universe could be greater than His rule and reign.
Jesus was there in the Garden of Eden when man and women fell into the evil temptation of pride. He wept as man introduced the world to sin in the midst of a creation that reflected the perfection of God’s majestic love. Yet, He never stopped loving us! He watched centuries go by as humanity helplessly wrestled with temptations, pain, diseases, and death. Yet, from the bowels of Eden He declared that His Creation’s story would not end with sin. Though the Creator was working to draw mankind into the communion that He desired to have with them from the beginning, it was Bethlehem that would mark the beggining of God’s most profound justice against the human curse.
The Creator came as a helpless baby. He was born in a stable. He once sat on a throne of Almighty Glory! His voice commanded angel armies. Yet, He enters into the world through the pitiful frightened wailings of a newborn baby. He deserved palaces and servants, but he chose the poor origins of human suffering in order to share in our burdens. Christ’ message is always consistent. He enters into our depravity in order to share our pain, so that He could one day nail it to a cross and declare it’s end. Luxury would not be fitting for our God. For He reaches into the bowels of our depravity, and He engages to twistedness of our stories in order to declare Good News
It was a chaotic evening in Bethlehem on the night of Christ’s birth. Yet, within the chaos, I imagine Creation stood still for just a moment as the Messiah enters through Mary’s womb and breaks the silence with a baby’s cry. It was no ordinary moment. It was the beginning of our salvation, and the presentation of the greatest gift ever given; Emmanuel, God with Us.
May you reflect on His coming today and take great joy in His gift.
What worthy return can we make for so great a condescension? The One Only-begotten God, ineffably born of God, entered the Virgin’s womb and grew and took the frame of poor humanity. He Who upholds the universe, within Whom and through Whom are all things, was brought forth by common childbirth; He at Whose voice Archangels and Angels tremble, and heaven and earth and all the elements of this world are melted, was heard in childish wailing. The Invisible and Incomprehensible, Whom sight and feeling and touch cannot gauge, was wrapped in a cradle. If any man deem all this unworthy of God, the greater must he own his debt for the benefit conferred the less such condescension befits the majesty of God. He by Whom man was made had nothing to gain by becoming Man; it was our gain that God was incarnate and dwelt among us, making all flesh His home by taking upon Him the flesh of One. We were raised because He was lowered; shame to Him was glory to us. He, being God, made flesh His residence, and we in return are lifted anew from the flesh to God.
-Hillary of Poitier