Once upon a time, about 2,000 years ago, a little baby was born in a manger, His name was Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. He was born of a virgin named Mary, her husband was Joseph, and they went to Bethlehem on a donkey because of a census.
Most of us have probably heard this story since we were little more than babies, but have we ever stopped to give it a close look?
Let’s start with Mary and Joseph, the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 1, verses 18-25 says this about them:
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just [man,] and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: [ “Behold,] [ the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,”] which is translated, “God with us.” Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS. Matthew 1:18-25 (NKJV).
Now, for those of us in the western world, a girl who gets pregnant out of wedlock may not be as world shattering as it is in other countries, or as much as it was in mine even 50 years ago. But in first century Judea though, that was a huge deal, that girl would be a disgrace, she would get thrown out of the synagogue, disowned by her family, and if she managed to not get stoned, she would forever live in disgrace, and her children would as well. For that matter, if the man assumed to be responsible for the pregnancy was the girl’s betrothed (fiancé), he would be treated the same way. In short, Mary and Joseph probably didn’t have a perfect reputation, which would explain why in Luke 2: 1-7 there is no room for them at what is translated “the inn”.
And it came to pass in those days [that] a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So, all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:1-7 (NKJV).
The word that is here translated inn is actually Kataluma, which should be translated guest room, because in that time Bethlehem was a tiny village that wasn’t big enough to support an inn. Instead, Luke here is referring to either the guest room at the synagogue, which would have most certainly been full, or as it is more likely, and is a stand that is supported by genealogical records of the Jews is that both Mary and Joseph had relatives in Bethlehem.
If you would give me some imaginary license, let me ask you this: imagine if you were staying at your Uncle Matthias’s house in Bethlehem, and your cousin Mary shows up pregnant and about to give birth, would you not give up your room for her?
So, one could assume that perhaps Mary and Joseph were turned away from their family’s homes simply because she was unmarried and pregnant, which makes Jesus not just the King born in a stable on a bed of straw, but rather the King of Kings, God himself, born to a couple that had a bad reputation, whose family had effectively abandoned them so that the only place found for him to be born was in a cave, on a bed of straw, with lowly shepherds the only ones to give honor to the infant Savior. Which speaking of shepherds, in first century Judea, shepherds were considered little better than thieves, they were the lowest class of society, not even allowed to testify in court, and in many cases not allowed to even enter the synagogue. Yet it was these who were ready and waiting for their Savior to come, and it was these who were told.
Even the Magi, the wise men, the kings who from orient were, these men were gentiles, considered by the Jews to be lower in status than a poor Jew, even if they were rich.
So, knowing all this, let me re-write the typical Christmas story:
Jesus came to earth to save us all one Christmas night
He didn’t come a king proud and right
Instead He came a babe in a manger
who was born to man a stranger
His parents, good as they were, could not escape the whispers people told
They did not know he was Virgin born to save the young and old
lowly shepherds the only worshipers with understanding immense
Truly wise men followed to give the king their gifts of gold, myrrh and frankincense
For there was not a priest, scholar or king of the people he came to save who recognized their king first.
And now the story comes to you, will you accept Him who came to save the best and worst?
Just say a prayer, give him your heart
And in this Christmas season, He will do his part.
I don’t know who you are, or what your background is, or if you’re already a christian, or maybe you were a christian but you’ve fallen away from the faith you once had, or maybe you’re learning about Jesus and you’re still not sure, or maybe this is your first time learning about Jesus.
Whoever you are, I want you to know that Jesus loves you and came to save you. All you need to do is accept Him. If you want to know more about Jesus, or want us to pray for you, please feel free to contact us here and we will be more than happy to. May God bless you all, and may you have a very blessed holiday season.