The Hope of Christmas


Many of us have left a door open at some point in our childhood only to have our mothers ask, “Were you born in a barn?” Our moms asked this question to remind us that some doors are normally closed. However, Mary would not have asked Jesus this question when he was a child because he was in fact born in a barn.

My children are now grown, and I hope to soon enter the “Grandpa Stage.” I do not know exactly what I would say if one of my children told me my first grandchild was to be born in a barn. I would probably ask, “what are you thinking?” I want my grand-children to be born in a safer, more sanitary environment.

However, my “what are you thinking” question prompted me to consider why God sent his own Son to a barn the night he was born. To me it would seem far more ap-propriate for Jesus to make his entrance in a palace, a nice house or even a syna-gogue. Yet when God sent his son to earth, that is where he was born. Why did God, who owns the world have his only Son born in such modest surroundings?

The words of theologian Frederick Buechner suggest the answer. He makes the point that God often does the unexpected, “…Once they have seen him in a stable, they can never be sure where he will appear or to what lengths he will go or to what ludicrous depths of self-humiliation he will descend in his wild pursuit of man…” (The Hungering Dark)

I am convinced God sent his son into the most humiliating conditions imagina-ble to demonstrate how He wanted Jesus to connect with everyone, no matter their sta-tion in life. God’s words to the shepherds make that very point. “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (NASB95, emphasis mine)

Shepherds at the time were common people who barely managed to eke out a meager living, yet they are the only guests known to visit that little barn in Bethlehem the night Jesus was born. Though we often picture the wise men there, they visited Je-sus sometime later in a house. (Matthew 2:11)

Jesus came to earth for the very least of us, which is a strong indication he came for all of us. The ultimate hope of Christmas is that God sent his only Son to earth for lowly shepherds as well as for you and me. That is something worth celebrat-ing each Christmas, and every other day too.


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