Most Christians know this, and unfortunately, most have forgotten what this really means. We’ve forgotten that for the infinite to forever limit Himself to a finite body was a great humiliation. We don’t stop to think about what God gave up when He joined the human race. And so we hear that Jesus was born as a baby and we think “How cute! I love babies!” instead of thinking, “Wow, God would do that for me?”
Shocking Truth 2: When God Came, Nobody Cared.
The second thing we tend to forget is that when God did something as shocking as come to earth, He intentionally came to a very humble reception. No palace received the woman who carried the God-Man in her womb. No kings put up Joseph and Mary in the finest of accommodations. They couldn’t even find an empty hotel room so they had to spend the night in a barn. They didn’t have an actual bed for the greatest ruler to ever be born, so they put Him in an animal’s food box.
True, heaven and the angels rejoiced, but for most of mankind it was a night just like any other night. The shepherds showed up! But as one commentary points out, “One should not romanticize the occupation of shepherds. In general shepherds were dishonest . . . and unclean according to the standards of the law.” Other than that, men went home from a long day of work, kissed their wives, played with their kids, and went to bed. And that was it. That the God of creation would stoop to become a man is so grand that people should have thronged to His birth. He should have received the wildest of accolades and throngs of dedicated worshippers should have come in droves to get just a glimpse of the King of Israel, King of the Nations, and King of the Universe. Instead He was born in a barn and some local shepherds came. When God showed up on this planet as a man, He was all but ignored. That should shock us.
Shocking Truth 3: When God Came, He Came To Die.
Often when we think of the Christmas we think of a cute baby being born, angels singing, and a happy new mother. We forget the words of Simeon when he told Mary, “a sword shall pierce through your own soul also” (Luke 2:35). We forget that the reason God came to earth was not so that He could receive our worship, not at first anyway. The immediate reason God chose to humble himself was so that He could die in our place. Christ’s first arrival was so that God Himself could endure the greatest act of injustice ever committed, die the most painful death imaginable, and all for a human race that had already rejected Him. Yes, the angels came singing peace, but that peace came at a price. God’s olive branch to man came at the price of the brutal murder of His own Son.
Philippians 2 is probably one of my favorite Christmas passages. There we read that Christ, “in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
So putting it all together, the shocking truth to remember this Christmas is that the Almighty God, the One by whom and for whom all things were created, the Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End, the Eternal Sovereign gave up the power and wealth and majesty of heaven to limit himself to the weaknesses of humanity, subjecting himself to hunger, cold, the flu, exhaustion, excruciating pain, and loneliness. When He did come, His birth was ignored by almost everyone, except for the lowest blue collar workers of the day, and he was born in a barn and instead of a bed he was put in an animal’s food dish. Why would He go through all of this? So that one day He could endure the most brutal form of murder that man’s wicked mind has come up with, allowing Him to take the punishment for sin that you and I deserve.
If that doesn’t shock you, I don’t know what will.
 Robert H. Stein, Luke, vol. 24, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 108.
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