O Magnum Mysterium
O great mystery
And wonderful sacrament,
That animals should see
The new born Lord
Lying in a manger!
O blessed is The Virgin,
Whose womb bore Christ the Lord.
As Luke tells the story of the nativity, he shows contrast between the worldly power of Caesar and the apparent weakness of the baby Jesus. But there is another contrast we ought to notice – the welcome Jesus deserved and the one He is actually given. Although He was the son of David and the true King of Israel, Jesus hardly received a royal welcome.
Jesus deserved to have every person from every nation to worship Him. He deserved to have the creation itself offer Him worship, with the rocks crying glory and galaxies dancing for joy.
But what kind of welcome did He receive? Luke tells us, “[Mary] gave birth to her first born son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:6-7). Here is a profound irony of the incarnation: when the Son of God came to earth – the Maker of the universe in all its vast immensity – He couldn’t even get a room! Imagine the “sweat and pain and blood and cries as Mary reached up to the heavens for help. The earth was cold and hard. The smell of birth mixed with the stench of manure and acrid straw made a contemptible bouquet. Trembling carpenter’s hands, clumsy with fear, grasped God’s slippery with blood – the baby’s limbs waving helplessly as if falling through space – His grimacing as He gasped in the cold and His cry pierced the night.” (Dr. Kent Hughes)
Everything we know about the birth of Jesus points to obscurity, indignity, pain, and rejection. One of the great mysteries of our universe is that when God became a human being He spent the first night in a barn.
Why was Jesus born like this? What does the crude and unwelcome poverty of His birth tell us about the way of salvation and Good News of Great Joy?
First, the birth of Jesus shows us the depravity of our sin.
Second, it reveals the humanity of our savior.
Third, Jesus lowly birth beginnings show us His humility in our salvation.
God is with us!