A few months ago when I ventured into cake decorating, my mind was already made up on the decor for the perfect Christmas cake. The cake design was inspired by a Christmas greeting card sent to me a few years before.
The card is designed like a tri-fold easel board with the two front folds cut in the shape of the scenery of Bethlehem with its ancient buildings in shades of blue, mostly tall and grand. Then when you open the two front flaps; in the midst of these buildings, sits a tiny stable that is lit up by a bright yellow light emanating from a star above; much like a spot light. In the middle of the stable is a manger enveloped in light. This scene left an unusual impression on me because of its depiction of a seemingly paradoxical situation, which we have often heard or read about but never fully grasped.
When we think of kings and lords, we think of palaces, glitter, jewels, grandeur, and many fine things. Jesus, on the other hand, was born under the most extraordinary circumstances which were completely counter intuitive to our human imagination. Jesus was not born with silver trumpets announcing His birth or with pomp and flare. He was born in a lowly, “God forsaken” place, a place that was not even meant to be resided by humans. He was born in a stable, a residence for domestic animals. Are you shocked? I am. Why did the very Son of God who was in possession of all the splendor of the universe choose to be born in a stable where animals lived, in such extraordinarily humble circumstances?
In the midst of the city of Bethlehem, this tiny stable was completely lost from sight if you did not pay attention. Why did He come in such a quiet way and in such obscurity that most people were completely unaware of an event that was to reset the course of history and the course of their lives?
I think Jesus chose to be born this way to identify with us and our human condition. 1 Corinthians 1: 26 says, “Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.” Many of us work hard to conquer the very things said in this verse by excelling in power, knowledge, prestige or at least trying our best to dress better, appear smarter, and sound more intelligent to earn the respect “due us”. Yet in the hearts of our hearts, in the quietness of night, a fear looms over us, over the thought of possibly losing it all and being looked down upon. So we strive even harder and hold on even tighter to secure them in our grip, only to find ourselves always feeling empty and unsatisfied over and over again. In the depth of our souls; without these façades, most of us feel like helpless children lost in a big world, lonely, God-forsaken, and forgotten. Jesus, though God Himself, knowing full well our lowly estate, left all the majesty of heaven, not shunning the poverty in our souls and bodies, and chose to be born into the same conditions as a helpless babe into this world, rejected and forgotten by most people. The Almighty God has not forgotten us in our helplessness. Jesus came to show that God had a plan for us who were a far cry from what we were meant to be. He came to make a way for us to reach God, to know Him and to walk side by side with Him. And this is the story of Christmas:
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord…” (Luke 2: 11)
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned… For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9)
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
To you, my friends and family, Merry Christmas!