“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) … So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth … to Bethlehem … While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she [Mary] gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:1–7 NIV)
The Christmas story has everything needed for a great story. But one thing that impresses me is how simple and unadorned it really is. In fact, what captures me is how God fills the seemingly insignificant with His Presence and makes what might have been ordinary and mundane into a powerful mystery.
First, the mystery of Christmas is found in Insignificant Places. According to Scriptures, the "happening" places in the world were Rome and Syria. People who ruled others lived there. But the Christmas story sets its focus on little places. Like Bethlehem – a little town of about 100 people. Like Nazareth – they called it “the city of garbage” for its filth. Even Nathanael asked, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" (John 1:46). Like a manger—a common sheep cave. The first Christmas took place on a farm. The mystery of Christmas is: God could have chosen to birth His sinless Son in impressive places, but He chose simple and insignificant places. The message is when God comes near, all the little places become big!
My friend, God is interested in transforming the little places of your life to become big. It makes no difference what your situation or condition is, when God comes near, all the little places in your life become big.
Second, the mystery of Christmas is found in Insignificant People. Based on the Scripture text from Luke 2, the important people in those Bible times were Emperor Caesar Augustus and Governor Quirinius. They were the movers and shakers. When they spoke, people listened and obeyed. They could call for taxes, and the census was directed at taxes. But the Christmas story looks to different key players like a young, poor couple from Nazareth—Mary and Joseph. Like shepherds — they were viewed as demeaning jobs and outcasts. Shepherds in Bible times were not permitted to testify in courts. Like the innkeeper who is so insignificant that technically he is not even mentioned in the Scripture text. The mystery of Christmas is God turns to low key players to associate them with the birth of His heavenly Son, and the message for us is this: when God comes near, all the little people suddenly matter!
My friend, never say you are too young or too old, or you don’t have much education or haven’t accomplished much or not talented. God is not interested in your past. God is super interested in your future and seeks to cause awesome outcomes to come about in your life.
Third, the profundity of Christmas is found in an everyday, mundane event - the birth of a baby. Babies are born every day. The event that would make news in those times was taxes—it still does. But the Christmas story gives attention to the birth of a baby. The Bethlehem newspaper the next morning did not read: Joseph and Mary had a baby boy. There was little notice of His birth, even though this baby was The Lord, The Savior of the world, The Son of God. But therein is the wisdom of God. When God comes near, all little events take on spiritual power!
I read a story of two women who were having lunch in an elegant hotel. They were approached by a mutual friend who asked the occasion for the meal. One lady replied, “We are celebrating the birth of my baby boy.” “But where is he?” inquired the friend. “Oh,” said the mother, “you didn't think I'd bring him, did you?” What a picture of the way the world treats Jesus at Christmas.
God has revealed Himself supremely in Jesus. God is good and He loves you, unconditionally!
My friend, this Christmas, receive Jesus in your heart as your Lord and Savior. Draw near to Him. Seek His will for your life and desire to trust and obey Him, and He will make your life, a mysterious adventure!
The glorious Christmas message is, when God comes near, all people, all places, and all events become significant.
Have a wonderfully blessed Christmas season.