In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn (Luke 2:1-7).
There are a lot of complicated things going on in these seven verses of the Gospel of Luke — government mandates, imperial power, travel, relationships, tradition, deadlines, and healthcare challenges.
Yet, the first thing Jesus does when he arrives on the scene is eat and sleep. That’s what babies do, but the Son of God? Times are tough. The world’s a mess. Why doesn’t he straighten things out? Doesn’t God understand? Doesn’t God care?
The way that the Christ-child enters the world is a harsh judgment on our agendas and concerns.
We worry about occupancy rates and return on investment in the inn. He says, “A stable will do.”
We are aggravated about healthcare. He says, “Eating and sleeping right are the basics.”
We complain about the expanding powers of government. He says, “The family–mother, father and child is where I begin.”
We are anxious about what we don’t know. He demonstrates a capacity for growth that leads to maturity, not sophistication (Luke 2:52).
He doesn’t negotiate with kings from the east. He receives their worship.
Shepherds leave their flocks to praise him. He lets them go back to their sheep amazed at what God has in store for the everyday lives of ordinary people.
Jesus is the only begotten Son of the Father who loves the whole sin-stained, broken world so much that he will give that Son to be born for us, dispel the darkness around and in us, reveal the Father’s heart to us, identify with us in our humanity, to save us from our sins, to heal us, to die for us, and to live in us with life as fresh as the dawn of the first morning of creation. He is the complete package of Eternity — Emmanuel, “God with us” (Matt 1:23).
Jesus coming to earth is the only separation between the Father and Son ever and it is for us so we who know and believe in him as the Son of God need never again be separated from our Creator. We can live forever in his grace.
But how Jesus came to us is how we must come to him. Later on, Jesus will say to disciples seeking power and prestige, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:3). There it is — the Word and the judgment! Jesus devalues the currency of the world with the devastating revelation of Divine purpose.
His disciples are obsessed with the organization of Jesus’ earthly kingdom, elbowing each other for competitive advantage. Jesus says that it is confession of our weakness and dependence on our heavenly Father as children without status or influence of our own that opens the kingdom of heaven to us.
Are you so compressed by the rush, worry, wariness and weariness of survival that you have no idea how to let go and become childlike? Ask him to be born in you as a child. It’s why he came. “To all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).
His invitation will issue, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28). But now at the beginning, by the Father’s love begotten and secure in the care of Mary and Joseph, he nestles down in the manger and sleeps.
“O taste and see that the Lord is good. Happy are those who take refuge in him” (Ps 34:8).
Under the mercy of Christ,
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