Our Christmas cards and nativity scenes portray peaceful, lazy animals, glowing faces and cozy, pretty surroundings.
The truth probably is that the barn was nasty, the stench of manure strong and nauseating, and Mary, exhausted from giving birth without a midwife or one experienced woman at her side, was no doubt terrified and disappointed all at once at her surroundings–this is not what she had pictured–with a bewildered Joseph at her side.
Nevertheless, this couple was no doubt sturdier than we are today, and more grateful for their meager provisions than we are at our abundance.
And what’s more…far more…is that they knew they were sharing this crude shelter with the very Son of God.
I wonder if they understood the implications, or that his life would be cut short, by a parents’ measure, or that he would be hated–can’t every mother imagine the heartache of a son who constantly endures scorn?
Jesus wasn’t born into a quiet, peaceful scene; he was born into a battlefield, where just hours later, his father would receive news that King Herod was seeking to kill him–this precious, infant son, and would massacre thousands of others in his attempt.
“The Word became flesh” and that Word would be a “sword cutting between soul and spirit…exposing our innermost thoughts and desires” and those not called of the Father would hate it–would hate Him, Jesus, the Living Word.
That divine night changed the world forever. No more could sin dominate us because the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent, and death would lose its sting and victory. The act of a holy God stooping to our brokenness and messiness and making a way to lift us up to Him, to make his enemies–”children of wrath” his adopted sons–can we ever thank Him enough?
Perhaps the pristine stable looks nice, but we should rather remember just how lowly the King of Kings made his entrance. This too, God’s sovereignty, to show us how much he delights to exalt the lowly. Christmas–the ultimate rescue mission to save the lost and heal the broken.
Can we ponder it long enough and grasp the reality of what the Incarnation really means to us? If we really understood it would we possibly even live differently? With more gratitude and less anxiety? With more forgiveness and less wanting our way?
Whatever heartache or tragedy we face, we can be of good cheer; He has overcome the world.