The story of Christmas can become almost too familiar to us. Familiar to the point where we gloss over it and assume we truly know the story, when we don’t. When we take a fresh look at the Christmas story, there are several things that don’t make sense. Here are five of them:
1. Power came wrapped in humility. When Caesar Augustus declared a world wide census, it was the exertion of pure power. He was in charge of the known world, he wanted to collect taxes, so he declared a census. As great as that power was, it pales in comparison to God’s power, but when God came to earth he did not come to earth in power, but in humility.
Look at the obscureness of Israel, a backwoods Roman province. Jesus was born in a stable, not even dignifying his birth in a cheap motel room. And instead of a royal court to attend him, Jesus only had shepherds show up that night, the lowest rung on the socio-economic ladder. Power came wrapped in humility.
2. The very definition of royalty snuck into this world through a peasant. This was the time in history when Romans began to worship their emperors as gods. Caesar Augustus was smart enough not to declare himself a living god. He named Julius Caesar, his adoptive father, as a god, making him . . . the son of a god.
Contrast that with the actual son of God, who was not born in Rome or Alexandria or any number of power centers that would befit royalty. Instead, the son of God was born to an illiterate peasant girl without even a hint of power or royalty. It doesn’t make any sense. Instead of fanfare, the true son of God snuck into this world with barely a whisper.
3. The infinite contained himself inside an infant. When God decided to visit his creation, he could have come in any form he wanted. But he chose to come as a vulnerable, tiny, fragile infant. The infiniteness of God was contained inside a vulnerable baby. The infinite contained within the finite, ultimate power contained within human frailty, the eternal caught up in the temporal.
4. The God who created life came to die. Think about it. God created all life, and yet he came to die. When Jesus came, his mission was set from the beginning: by his perfect life and sacrificial death, he would pay the penalty for our sins so that we wouldn’t have to. The God who is the very definition of life came to die. It doesn’t make any sense.
5. The immovable force of God did not force himself on this world. This has always fascinated me. When you look at Jesus not just as a baby but as an adult, he was the fullness of God. He literally could have forced anyone to do anything. When you’re God, you get to do that. But he chose not to. The immovable force of God did not force himself on this world.
When Jesus was born, the world wasn’t forced to worship him. Some did, like the shepherds and the wise men, while many, like Caesar Augustus and King Herod, chose not to. God doesn’t force us to worship Him, even though He could. Instead, he invites us to follow him.
Don’t walk past the beauty, the wonder, and ultimately the divine mystery of Christmas this season!