“The King of Kings Lay thus in Lowly Manger, in all our Trials, Born to be our Friend”
Arriving at the nativity moment in Bethlehem, Luke is sure to inform us of the lowly circumstances into which Jesus is born. Displaced from a proper living space by the overwhelming busyness of census-crowded Bethlehem, his family is forced to reside in an animal stall where Mary gives birth, and lays him in a feeding trough. This is a shocking scenario, but why is it so shocking? We have certain expectations. Kings are supposed to be glorified. They are supposed to be served and pampered, not born in barns in the conditions of servants. The birth of Jesus seems absurd in light of our expectations, but perhaps, we ought to consider that our expectations might be absurd in light of Jesus’s birth…
As the fullest revelation of both God and man, Jesus demonstrates for us what human beings were always created to be. The sin of the world began when Adam and Eve (who had ironically been commissioned by God to rule his creation) decided that in order to be great in God’s world and rule, they needed power, and the right to determine right or wrong for themselves. From there, every kingdom of the world has relied on this principle, and thus, we find ourselves steeped in sin and oppression. In Jesus however, the suggestion is made that perhaps all of those expectations that we have of what it means to be great are all just remnants of Adam’s flawed idea, and that in fact, a king who is born in humility and serves the weak and overlooked is quite appropriate and right, and maybe even the true solution to all of the brokenness.
It’s undoubtable that as the true God, Jesus deserves all praise and honor, and that a manger in ancient Palestine is infinitely below him, but in embodying for us what true humanity looks like, Jesus’ birth forever cements the reality that there is in fact no better way to be great in God’s world than by abandoning our entitlements and becoming low. At Christmas we wonder at the idea that perhaps, we were all wrong from the beginning, and that maybe we are now seeing a glimpse of the truth that will change the world.
-What are some things in your life that you feel that you deserve as a human being? How does Jesus’s example challenge your view? Are there any of these “entitlements” that you might have to give up in order to follow Jesus in the example of his birth? How would that change the way you live?