By Roxanne Smith
It frustrates me that Jesus was born in a stable designed to shelter animals. As if that weren’t bad enough, Mary had to lay Him down in a manger, a feeding trough for the animals, because that’s all she had. God’s Son came to earth and didn’t have much of a welcome, did He? A stable. A manger. Seriously? Is that the best God could do in presenting His only Son to our world? Unimaginable!
I think about how much anticipation there was on the world stage when Prince George of Great Britain was born last summer. His parents, Prince William and Kate Middleton, were the subject of intense media coverage. His birth was reported instantly all over the world.
The Daily Telegraph of London reported:
HRH Prince George of Cambridge was born on July 22, 2013, at St. Mary’s Hospital in London, to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. He replaces his uncle Prince Harry as third in line to the throne, after his father, Prince William and grandfather, Prince Charles. “His Royal Highness” was born into privilege and opulence.
He had a proper christening, formal portraits with the queen and all. Every yawn, squall, and hand motion was documented by the best photographers and posted all over the web.
The magazine Marie Claire told us when “Kate Middleton took Prince George for his first stroll in Kensington Gardens”—including details of what Kate wore. But the Son of God was born in a manger? To an unwed mother? A mother who was poor and unknown outside of her little village? I just don’t get this at all!
We’ve heard the biblical version so many times that it doesn’t shock us anymore. But if there HAD been a 24/7 news cycle, it might have been reported like this:
Baby born at Walmart:
Early this morning, a teen mom gave birth to an infant in the Walmart bathroom. Since she and her boyfriend were far from home, they wrapped her baby in paper towels from the bathroom dispenser and laid him in a shopping cart.
Shocking, right? Whether the baby is in a manger or a Walmart shopping cart, it’s in a place where it doesn’t belong. It violates our sensibilities. It offends our ideas of how things should happen. Nothing against Walmart; it’s just not where a baby should be born.
So what do we do with this? Why does God act the way He does? It’s so different from the way we would arrange things. Why does God hide Himself and also hide the birth of His only Son?
Yes, the angels announced it to the shepherds, but shepherds were like today’s Walmart stockers rather than the elite of their society. Humble men, hardly influential. The wise men who recognized the star were educated, but there were only a few of them. Why didn’t God make it plain as day to every single soul on earth, that His own Son had been born?
For one thing, there were jealousies to worry about. King Herod of Israel did not want any competition for his throne. He ordered that all the baby boys of Bethlehem under two years old be killed, after the wise men told him that a baby king had been born. God the Father knew Herod’s heart, and so He arranged for anonymity—along with a flight to Egypt—to protect His Son. But I think the reasons God kept His Son hidden go deeper than that.
Why didn’t God make it plain as day to every single soul on earth, that His own Son had been born?
God kept Jesus hidden because He knew if He brought His Son to our world in glory that somehow we’d get it wrong. It’s not a flaw on God’s part that drives Him to stay hidden at the birth of His Son, as if somehow He weren’t all powerful and couldn’t arrange a huge celebration. It’s a flaw on our part.
If Jesus had been born with the same fanfare that Prince George received, we would seek Him for the wrong reasons. Just as people try to have influence with the British royal family, we might try to use access to Jesus for our own personal gain or advantage.
Jesus had a different purpose. He said that His kingdom was not of this world. His purpose was to be born as true God and true man, to live a perfect life, and to die in order to redeem us from our darkness. His purpose was to be raised from the dead by His Father, so that anyone who trusts in Him can be part of His eternal kingdom.
Jesus had a different purpose.
He wants us to respond to Him in faith. In faith. Not by sight. By faith. Faith in God who often is hidden from view, but Who promises us eternal life because of Jesus’ work on our behalf. God still comes in humble ways to humble hearts.
God’s glory will be fully revealed one day, but not yet. Those who are in Christ will see Him face to face, and there will be no question that He is King of the universe. For now, we have to accept that God is hidden and see with eyes of faith.
God’s glory will be fully revealed one day, but not yet.
Lord, give us eyes that see your miracle of salvation being accomplished, even in unexpected ways … even in everyday ways like reading a blog post.