Jesus was not born into a royal household or aristocratic family in keeping with his title or position. He was born in a stinking cattle shed to an ordinary Jewish family and laid upon the straw in an animal feeding trough. No one knows the true location where the King of heaven was born but perhaps the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem may just mark the spot where once stood that lowly cattle shed. When Mary gave birth to the Christ Child there was no NHS or Private medical health care in those bleak days. No electric lights or central heating could warm and bring comfort to Mary on that first Christmas night and yet the glory of God was seen, as the most important child to ever be born came into the world.
The story is told by the old theologian of the time a stately Christian gentleman visited the Church of the nativity. ‘He came to a great wall, and in the wall there was a door so low that he had to stoop to enter it; and through the door, and on the other side of the wall, there was the church. Beneath the high alter is the cave, and when the pilgrim descends into it he finds a little cavern about fourteen yards long and four yards wide’. Is this the place where Jesus was born? Well the tourist information may tell you it is so. We will never know, however the symbolic image that is portrayed sends a clear message to us all. In order to enter in and see Jesus every person regardless of status or position must stoop low and bow down to enter in.
I have never had the privilege of touring the significant sites mentioned in the life story of Jesus and the historic letters in the Bible. Perhaps one day I will be blessed with the opportunity of doing so, however, the Word creates images and impressions in our minds of the locations and what it would have been like to live in the times of Jesus. The great divide between the wealthy and the poor that we see in our society was even more marked, but life would have been hard for the working class family of which Jesus was part. Joseph, his earthly father, was a carpenter and is thought to have died young, which meant Jesus had to start work early in life and run the family business.
I say these things to help us see that, although the glory of God was revealed and seen in Jesus at that first Christmas, he lived and worked hard in a climate more difficult than ours today. He lived under Roman rule and had to provide for Mary and the other siblings as an ordinary family. Jesus lived at the coalface of life and had to make it work before he began his miraculous ministry at the age of thirty.
We as followers of Jesus are not called to develop empires for ourselves or to try to make our name great. We are called to follow Christ and most of the time we express His glory by serving in the routine of life. The true glory of Christ this Christmas will not come to you through the tinsel and the tree, but through stooping in humility and by bowing in worship as you make room for Jesus. Let Jesus fill the ordinary with His life and power because it will make Christmas extraordinary for you and your family.