Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 2:1-21
I’ve heard it asked that, if God exists, why doesn’t he make it more obvious to all of us skeptics? Why not make a big show of himself? Why not give us a sign of incontrovertible proof that he exists and we should therefore serve him?
And one answer to this question can be found in the story of Jesus’ death. In the death and resurrection of Jesus, God gave us a display of his existence and power. In the first century, the resurrection is why many people turned from disbelief to belief. They had seen Jesus die and then they had seen the risen Jesus with their own eyes — and this, for them, was indisputable evidence — an obvious sign that God is here.
But another answer to the question “Why doesn’t God make a big show of his presence?” can be found in the story of Jesus’ birth. The story of Jesus’ birth is the entrance of Almighty God into our earthly world. We would expect a grand entrance, but what we get instead is humility.
Ironically, God’s big show is his humility.
The humility of Christ’s birth is staggering. If you were going to make up a story about God coming to earth — you certainly wouldn’t tell the story as we read it in Matthew chapter 1 and Luke chapter 2.
We would expect this God-man to be born to a King, but instead he’s born to a working-class couple — a couple whose reputation is disgraced. That’s not the king we would expect. Then on top of that, this God-man’s lowly parents are even required to submit to the authority of another king, Caesar, as they travel to Bethlehem for the government-ordered census.
We would expect this God-man to be born with a company of Angels — heavenly hosts — filling the sky and announcing to the world his birth, which they did, except…they wasted the glorious announcement on lowly shepherds who were working the nightshift. No one of any significance was there to hear it.
We would expect this God-man to look different — that he would bear a mark or a sign or a symbol to show that he was God-in-the-flesh! But “there was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him.” (Isaiah 53:2b, NLT).
This is the story of God entering our world and our lives. It’s not meant to be flashy. It’s not meant to hit you over the head with incontrovertible proof that God is here.
What the story hits us over the head with is humility. The God of the Universe doesn’t feel the burden of proof falling upon himself to convince you that he exists. He doesn’t need to prove anything to you.
And yet, this birth narrative shows us that God is not too big, too important, nor too Holy to condescend to your level. God humbles himself to be with you.
So if you’re looking for God to give you a sign to believe that he’s here…there it is: “And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12, NLT).
A humble beginning to a humble life that would end with a humble death.
As Paul describes it:
“Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8, NLT).
God humbles himself to be with you.