After several months of failed attempts it finally happened on December 17, 1903 (108 years ago yesterday!). Orville & Wilbur Wright made four successful flights and became the first to make power controlled, manned flight. Their last flight went 852’ in 59 seconds. Wilbur rushed to the telegraph office inKitty Hawk,NC and sent his message home: “Successful four flights Thursday morning # All against twenty one mile wind started from level with engine power alone # Average speed through air thirty one miles. Longest flight fifty-nine seconds. Inform press # Home Christmas.” Upon receiving the telegram, their sister Katherine, went the newspaper office and told the editor of her brothers flying miracle. On December 19, the local paper gave a headline “Wright Brothers, Local Bicycle Merchants Home For Holidays”. The editor had missed the point entirely. Are you missing the point of Christmas? Today we want to look in Luke 2 for the point and purpose of the Christmas story.
EXAMINE Luke 2:1-21 AAJ: Incarnation
This is one of the most often noted passages of the Christmas story. It is likely being read in churches, Christmas dramas, and nativity scenes all over. It is even read in the classic “A Charlie Brown Christmas” cartoon. In this passage you can see 4 ordinary elements that teach us not to miss the point of Christmas.
Joseph & Mary: Ordinary people with an extraordinary purpose
Joseph was a “builder” (Mat 13:55). He likely had calloused hands and dirty fingernails as a working man. He was from the family line of David (Lk 2:4). This would have been both ordinary and significant because David was originally a young red-headed shepherd boy who later would kill a giant and then become king ofIsrael. Joseph belonged to this family. Joseph was also a righteous, God-fearing man (Mt 1:19). He quietly but faithfully served God throughout his life.
Mary was a young virgin; likely <14 years old (Lk 1:27). Again, she was likely a quiet girl who only wanted to be faithful in her service to God and her husband (Luke 1:34, 2:19).
God chose a couple teenagers to identify with the ordinary.
Nazareth & Bethlehem: Ordinary place with an extraordinary purpose
Nazareth was a little, rural town. It is never even mentioned in the OT nor was it known for anything good (John 1:46). Yet, these ordinary individuals, Joseph & Mary were from Nazareth. They had to travel to Bethlehembecause of a census order from Caesar Augustus. God was sovereignly working out this plan to bring the Messiah into the world, as it was prophesied in Micah 5:2, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephratha, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”
Inn & Manger: Ordinary prop with an extraordinary purpose
As Joseph and Mary traveled approximately ninety miles toBethlehemthey were left without a place to stay. Their stay at an inn was not as a modern day hotel but likely a public or private place for the traveling poor. The fact that Mary had to wrap the baby herself, after giving birth, and then to place the child in a feeding trough is indication of poverty.
The Son of God was born not in the presence of world leaders but the setting of a barn. The setting is anything but sanitary, stately or saintly. A barn isn’t noble; the animals are not aristocratic; the hay isn’t holy; nor is the trough a triumphant birth place for a king.
But God chose a stable to identify with the ordinary, becoming exposed to the dirt and dangers of this world.
Shepherds: Ordinary profession with an extraordinary purpose.
Angels announced the birth of the Christ Child to shepherds who were in the fields and keeping watch over their flock at night. Shepherds and sheep were lowly and despised (cf. Gen 46:34). Israelites, especially the religious, valued cleanliness and purity. Shepherds were dirty and smelly. Men who soaked with sweat, clothes drenched with field stench, and likely their style and language lacked etiquette.
Yet, God favored them as the first visitors of the incarnation. God chose shepherds to identify with the ordinary and show his value for the humble.
So, what’s the point of the Christmas story and the Christ message?
Luke 2:11 For unto YOU is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
We can believe the Christmas story and the Christ message because God is one of us for us. God, the Creator of the world, entered into creation as a child. “In the fullness of time, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons… crying ‘Abba! Father!’” (Galatians 4:4-6).
God chose the ordinary so that we might see Him more clearly. If God entered the world with pomp & circumstance we would say “God is beyond and removed from us”. But because of the incarnation we cannot say that. We must say, “God is Emmanuel [God with us]; the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14)
“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God…. So, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord’” (1 Corinthians 1:27-28, 31).
We must follow the shepherds who worshiped God and reported what they saw to others. We are God’s witnesses to the Christmas story and the Christ message.