In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2:1-7
The maker of the universe entered this life as true man by being born of a virgin, was cared for by a carpenter and his wife, and slept in a manger because the inn was full. This follows a pattern the Lord has repeatedly used in history – stack the (human) odds against success and then knock it out of the park so there’s no doubt who did the deed. This is Christ in human form – who came to serve all mankind, not to be served Himself and who came to point people to the truth and do for them what they could not.
One doesn’t normally hear too much of this aspect of Christmas amongst all the traditional festivities – the task He had been given, what it would cost Him, and that He acted in perfect obedience to His Father’s will without question or complaint. What was Christ asked to do? He had to be born of a virgin under suspicious circumstances, live a perfect life, and then face down and survive the full wrath and fury the Almighty’s perfect justice and righteousness required of each and every man, woman, and child for all of time.
While the full implications of such an act are beyond what any human could ever begin comprehend, you could experience the tiniest sip of the cup that was waiting for Christ by drinking a ladle full of molten metal.
When Christ sweated blood in the Garden of Gethsemane and asked that the cup he was about to drink be taken from Him if it was possible – this is what He was talking about.
This is what He came to save us from and this is why we celebrate Christmas. Only Christ’s birth, perfect life, death, and resurrection can change the end of our individual stories from one of eternal torment to one of eternal bliss and fellowship with our Maker.
Image Credits: National Industrial Sand Assoc.