His coming had been predicted hundreds of years before by the prophet Isaiah in the description of the future birth of Israel’s Messiah in Bethlehem. Yet, at first glance, there seems nothing humble about it:
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” — Isaiah 9:6
But notice that what He shall become is not promised to begin at His birth as a child, but rather as what He “shall be,” a reference to what He would become as an adult.
Everything about His birth was steeped in humility. Consider Luke the Physician’s description of the Shepherds’ encounter with the angels announcing Jesus birth in a lowly manger:
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[a]
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. — Luke 2:8-17
Even amid today’s growing public ignorance of the Bible, this passage about the birth of Jesus as the Christmas story is a familiar one to most Americans. But that very familiarity makes it all too easy for us to miss these three key things about the passage:
First, why was the birth of Jesus first announced to the most humble members of society in ancient Israel, the shepherds?
Shepherds lived in the fields with the animals, usually sheep, for which they were responsible to watch over, protect and nurture. Being a shepherd was a hard way to make a living and it afforded one nothing in the way of riches, social status or comfort.
Yet note how these shepherds respond – Luke tells us they immediately decided to go check out what they had just been told by the angels about a baby born in Bethlehem and lying in a manger. Which, of course, is exactly what they found when they arrived.
Second, why was Jesus born in a stable, surrounded by only by His poor parents, lowly shepherds and a bunch of animals?
Remember, Mary and Joseph were told there was “no room at the inn” for them when they sought a warm place to spend the night. Mary not only had to deal with the pains of child birth, but the social stigma that had undoubtedly attended her becoming visibly pregnant before marrying Joseph.
And consider Joseph. He was a carpenter, a humble tradesman. He must have been a salt-of-the-Earth type guy because when Mary first told him she was pregnant, he wanted to end their engagement quietly to minimize the public embarrassment for her. And when an angel explained to him why Mary was pregnant and what to name the child, Joseph acted justly, according to Matthew 1:18-25.
Third, the shepherds and Jesus humble birth pointed to His future ministry in proclaiming the Good News.
Everything about Jesus in His birth spoke humility. As Mark 10:45 tells us, He came to serve, not to be served, and to die in order to pay the price of sin and save all who accept Him as their savior. He told His disciples in advance that it would happen and how.
And He came to lay down His life for us, as John 10: 11-18 explains:
11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep … 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep … 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord …
But what about Isaiah’s prophecy that He would be the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”?
Ultimately, our peace is found in accepting Him as savior.
Yet He is coming back to secure our peace for all eternity and when He does at the end of time, Revelation 17:14 tells us what will happen:
14 They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”
In other words, He is “the reason for the season.” He came the first time in humility so that He will come the second time in victory. Which side of Him will you be on when that day comes?
DON’T MAKE US SUBPOENA YOU!!!
COMING IN JANUARY 2021
WHAT: Eight 1-hour weekly Zoom video sessions, led by HillFaith’s Mark Tapscott