Between the angels, the pregnancy, the wedding, and the census, the theme of the past year for Joseph and Mary seemed to have been about listening to the story of who they were. They weren’t children anymore, but they weren’t quite grownups either. They were somewhere between who they used to be and who they were becoming, and now, the moment had come which would change not only their lives, but the entire course of history.
Pain stabbed at her. Then it happened again, worse this time. And again.
Adam and Eve took the forbidden fruit and one of the consequences of that act of rebellion shot through Mary from head to toe, every few minutes now.
Eventually, as if cresting a ridge, her labor gave way to delivery, and her groaning gave way to the sound of the cries of little lungs drawing in the breath of earth for the first time.
To the wonder of the humble man and relief of the weary woman, they beheld Him who, though He was the Son of God, was every bit a fragile, tiny baby.
Together, Mary and her husband cleaned their child and wrapped His little arms and legs in strips of cloth to keep Him warm. After they laid Him in a manger and finally exhaled, they gave Him the name Jesus. And both remembered why.
The incarnation of the Savior of the world could have come to pass any number of ways. But God, in His infinite wisdom, chose this. He chose this couple for this night in this shelter. This boy, the angel told them, would be the heir to David’s throne. He would be their Wonderful Counselor, their Mighty God, their Everlasting Father, their Prince of Peace. The government would be upon His shoulders (Isaiah 9:2-7).
But there was nothing particularly complex or regal about this moment in the stable outside Bethlehem. There were no heralds in the streets announcing the birth of the King. By all appearances, it was a humble, simple affair, seemingly incidental to everything else going on in David’s town that night. But it wasn’t incidental. It had been God’s plan from the beginning: this King of Kings was “chosen before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20).
There, on the edge of Bethlehem, a child was born. A Son was given. It was the most significant moment in the history of the world.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty had accomplished this (Isaiah 9:7).
Thanks be to God.
written by Russ Ramsey
adapted from Behold the Lamb of God: An Advent Narrative