by Rayola Kelley
This is the time of the year when we consider the wondrous work of God. This work was veiled from human eyes for years, but 20 centuries ago the mystery was unveiled to the world. The mystery came in the form of a baby. In a sense, the mystery remained hidden until that baby grew into manhood. Although at His birth it was declared by the angels and shepherds, the Father at His baptism, and man throughout His three-year ministry, that mystery was clearly revealed in His resurrection. The Apostle Paul summarized this mystery in 1 Timothy 3:16: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”(Emphasis added.)
The wondrous work of God is that He clothed Himself in the flesh, came among men, walked among them, allowed Himself to be nailed to a cross, rose from the grave, and forever changed the course of those who would believe upon Him as their Redeemer, Savior and Lord. Such a work is too glorious to describe in mere words. However, we can see the heart and ways of God in the manner in which He manifested Himself to the world through His Son, Jesus Christ.
There is nothing that exemplifies God’s way more than the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. The Apostle Paul summarized the ways of God in this manner: “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called; But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are, That no flesh should glory in his presence” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).
As you consider the vessels, the times and the means that God used to bring forth His only begotten Son, you can begin to realize that God fulfilled every aspect of 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 in a visible way, leaving us an example. Sadly, many of us miss these visible examples, because we are considering them through the eyes, philosophies and standards of the world. Let us now consider these examples.
Ponder some of the vessels God used. He did not use that which would be considered noble, wise, mighty, important, or significant. He used a simple handmaiden by the name of Mary who was of a low estate to bring forth His Son. This handmaiden was a virgin who held no real credibility, titles or special importance to ensure that the world would know something extraordinary happened. In fact, her very state could put her into a dangerous situation if God had not confirmed the truth to Joseph. Again, we are reminded that when God does the extraordinary, people in their “wisdom” can end up misinterpreting it or ignoring it altogether because it seems too simple in their wise minds and too ordinary to those who would consider themselves elite in such matters.
However, we do find an important key about those who are lowly in estate, they are humble. No doubt Mary was susceptible to God’s intrusion in the midst of her normal life to change the course of history. Due to her humility, she could be entrusted with the Son of God. Who would have known that God’s intrusion into the midst of one handmaiden’s life would mark His intrusion into history, as He entered into the center of humanity as the Man, Christ Jesus.
God used an unknown carpenter to ensure the protection and growth of the Son of God. Just imagine, He did not set Him in a palace to be guarded by a mighty army. He did not put Him where Jesus would be educated by the most knowledgeable or honorable of His day. He put Him under the protection of a mere carpenter. However, the reality of this carpenter is that God could direct him. God warned and directed Joseph through dreams. Obviously, he was a man of faith. It takes faith to discern and obey the instructions of God. A person of unfeigned faith can be entrusted with the Son of God.
He used some lowly shepherds in the field to proclaim Jesus’ birth to an unsuspecting world. Granted, some of the religious people were looking for Him, but how could they imagine that He would come by way of a simple handmaiden and proclaimed by some common shepherds? The whole scenario would be foolish to the wise, ridiculous to those considered noble, and absurd to anyone who had their senses about them according to worldly standards.
The next unthinkable aspect of God’s plan was where Jesus would be born. He would be born in a manger, a place that had no real value other than to house the animals. Who would ever think that God would enter this world by a manger? But, then again, who would have imagined that He would leave this world by way of a cross? God’s ways seem too simple, almost archaic, and yet, they are able to penetrate the hearts and minds of those who have the capacity to see God in these simple, seemingly insignificant ways.
As you consider the reaction of those who are considered mighty, noble, wise, and important, you gain insight into the world’s reaction to the ways of God. Herod, a mighty man, felt threatened by a weak, innocent baby. He attempted to kill Jesus, only to sacrifice many innocent lives in the end. However, his plans were brought to nought as far as destroying the Son of God.
When you consider the noble people of Jesus’ day, those who were considered honorable in the religious realm, they were not even aware that the Messiah had indeed come. They were looking elsewhere for His coming. As a result, they remained in darkness about the whole event.
What about the wise men? Well, we know three wise men sought out Jesus. The question is how many wise men existed at the time of Jesus’ first advent? There had to be more than three of them. However, they never gave a bit of consideration to seeking Him. Sadly, there are only a few who prove to be wise concerning matters of their times and the reality of God. These wise men sought out Jesus to honor and worship Him.
True wisdom will always have one main goal: to seek out and find the real, true God. Wisdom will always express itself in the same way: it will honor and worship the true God of heaven.
As you consider Jesus’ ministry, God’s ways can be found exemplified in it as well. The Son of God came into this world in the lowest status of all, and as a humble Servant of all. Although Jesus was King, He took on this lowly state to fulfill the will of the Father and serve as our example.
Men who were considered of low estate, such as fishermen, followed Jesus. Their boldness and witness often brought to nought the accusations and attempts of the religious leaders to stop the testimony of Jesus. The truth is, the kingdom of God is very much alive as the King of kings and Lord of lords reigns from the thrones of His dear people’s hearts.
As I consider the examples surrounding Christ’s birth, I see how they speak volumes about the Christian life. Jesus came from outside of this world into the midst of the poverty of mankind. We must be in a state of spiritual poverty before we can be born again from above. The very life of Christ will be imparted into our being.
Like Mary, Joseph and the shepherds, we must be humble in disposition, made sensitive by genuine faith, and bold in our testimony of the glory of God being made evident to us through Jesus Christ.
A base and despised manger 20 centuries ago possessed the hope of all mankind, because God came into the world. Like the simple manger, the prospect of such an extraordinary birth taking place in the heart of man speaks of the miraculous. Those who have believed the record given concerning Jesus Christ stand exalted by the reality of His life in them. They possess resurrection power which will raise them up on the last day.
Everybody has his or her way of regarding Christ’s birth. In spite of the debate that rages over this time of celebration, we must admit that it is a wonderful time to once again consider the fact that God did come into this world clothed in flesh. It was a mystery, disguised by the many shadows and practices of the Jewish religion. Nevertheless, it is made real to every child-like heart, so that each person can see Jesus in His character, work and glory.
The question is, can you celebrate the birth of Christ? The birth of Jesus continues to this day. This celebration is not a matter of a day, activities or gifts. Rather, it is a matter of whether you have been born again from above. Jesus’ life can only be realized in the humble heart by faith. It is His life in us that will serve as a visible, bold witness to the world that He lives. His life continues to be brought forth in the midst of depravity in order to bring forth an eternal kingdom of His doing.
If you cannot truly answer this question with a yes, may I suggest, you open the manger of your heart. Recognize your need for the life of Jesus to come into your very being. Seek God’s forgiveness, and ask for His mercy and salvation. Admit that you are a lifeless manger, and that you are in need of His intervention, desirous of His will, and open to His gift of eternal life. Then, know that, like the rejoicing that took place in the night sky when Jesus came into this dark world, the heavens are rejoicing, for another child has found his or her way home.
We at GSM want to wish you a blessed celebration as you consider how God fulfilled His many promises by coming into this world, clothed in flesh, and full of grace and truth.
If you would like to discover more about God becoming flesh, watch for Rayola’s e-book called “HE ACTUALLY THOUGHT IT NOT ROBBERY.” It is a revelation you will not easily forget. After all, the manger possessed the hope of all mankind, because God came into the world.