Mary Pt. 4: The Way in Which He Came
The Israelites had been waiting and watching for their promised Savior and Redeemer for hundreds of years. The prophesies foretold of the Son of God entering into our human world bringing justice (Is. 42:1), having dominion over all people, nations and languages, and ruling over a kingdom that would never be destroyed (Daniel 7:14).
God’s people had their sights set for a King or an affluent ruler. That was the only way they had ever understood that leadership and power could be demonstrated.
But of course, Jesus came in the most unexpected, yet perfect, of ways.
Jesus is good at defying our expectations. His entire ministry, presentation of the New Covenant, and Salvation message ran against the grain of the Law-based mindset religious leaders had in their day. His focus and pursuit of the heart both transformed religion as it was understood, and changed an emphasis on rules into a pursuit of relationship.
Knowing the counter-cultural nature of Jesus, why are we surprised that He made His entrance in a way opposite of what would have been expected? In hindsight, we may reflect on the Nativity with a knowing smile, but to Mary - and the people of her day - nearly every element of the Christmas story would have been completely unforeseen.
Jesus was carried in the womb of a virgin who carried the appearance of a scandal. He was born in a barn in a poor town, rather than a palace in a place of power. He descended from the line of David, but was separated from the preceding King by many ordinary, and less-than-perfect individuals. He was swaddled in clothes meant for baby lambs and laid to rest in a feeding trough. He was celebrated by socially rejected shepherds and born into the form of a human baby, fully dependent on a 12-14 year old girl for the first several years of His life. Subjected to a humble, human upbringing and childhood, and fulfilling the role of a son and brother.
His arrival into our world was far from what many would have expected, yet it was the perfect entrance.
And this year, I have found that I have come to appreciate the way that Jesus came in a whole new light. It wasn’t neat, it wasn’t tidy, and it doesn’t match the pretty pictures displayed on the Hallmark cards being sent to loved ones this time of year. Rather, it was messy, unexpected and humiliating.
And I find that I relate to the mess of it all more than I ever have before. If Christ was born into a pristine Kingdom, I would have a lot of work to do to clean up my appearance before I knelt before Him. My life does’t match the Hallmark greeting cards either this year. Rather I find myself in the midst of a circumstance, and carrying a label, that I never could have anticipated.
One of the great graces of the way in which Christ came is that we can approach a personal God who is well-acquainted with living amidst the mess of a sinful world. We can come as we are to kneel before the empathetic King who understands the pangs of sickness and the pains of life.
The God and Creator of the Universe clothed Himself in flesh that we may have a personal face to gaze upon, a name to call upon, and the security of empathy.
And He came because He wants your heart. He didn’t come to clean up whatever circumstances seem to be unraveling around you, He came to clean up your heart! His deity didn’t change the fact that He was born into a stable, but it changed every life that entered into that stable.
And that truth remains the same. I find myself full of praise this Holiday season because no matter how far from ideal I feel my life appears at this point, I know that I would be invited into that baby Savior’s presence. He did not come to look down on us, rather He came to be with us.