by Ella Corey
There are countless miraculous and significant aspects of the Christmas story to elaborate on. Born of a virgin, the angel that appeared, the giant star in the sky leading the wise men to Jesus… The whole thing is completely unfathomable. The aspect to this story I find most significant, however, is something that is so easily overlooked: the setting.
A manger, a stable, a place where the barn animals feed, what’s so significant about that? Absolutely nothing, but that’s the point. This is the all-powerful, all-knowing, sinless Son of God. He could’ve been born in a castle, or even in the clouds and descended from heaven. But he wasn’t. Why? Billy Graham answers this question with another, “If Jesus had been born in a palace, would you feel like He could really understand the struggles and heartaches of ordinary people like you and me?” Jesus is saying more in the insignificance of his birthplace than he ever could in a significant place.
He Gets Us
We have to remember that Jesus was human and he felt every insecurity that we do. His mother was unmarried when she became pregnant. Jesus was conceived by God, not Joseph, an idea that most people found unbelievable. From this scandalous account comes a Messiah. There is no doubt that he was ridiculed for this.
Being poor, he also experienced the fear and humiliation that came with not having enough to eat, or a place to sleep. Think about all of the stress that money causes you. Jesus certainly wasn’t financially stable, but still He trusted in His Father. He experienced poverty to an extent that we could never imagine, but never did he complain or fear that God wouldn’t provide. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich,” (2 Corinthians 8:9). He became poor so we may be rich in The Spirit.
This puts Jesus in an ironic situation. He understands us. He was tempted and hungry and humiliated. Yet he’s still the King of the universe and could’ve had anything He wanted. “Because He did this, we know He understands what our lives are like. This is why you can bring every burden you have to Him in prayer, because you know He loves you and understands your needs,” says evangelist Billy Graham.
We, also, are to be Humble
Just from the setting of Jesus’ birth we can learn a huge lesson. Humility is the key to understanding and the key to love. But how are we to be humble? It’s ideally unachievable; because by thinking you’re humble you are actually showing pride. As pastor Tim Keller puts it, “Examining your own heart, even for pride, often leads to being proud about your diligence and circumspection.”
To be truly humble, we must find our identity in Christ, not our own good deeds. We are saved because Christ died for us, not because we have done anything to earn it. In his book Mere Christianity, author C. S. Lewis makes the claim that “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” Humility is not having no self-respect, but knowing where it comes from. All your self-confidence must come from Christ.
Jesus found His worth in his Father, and we are to do so too. By humbling ourselves as He did the day he was born, we make ourselves receivable to others and we can better our ability to love.