A Simple Birth
An Advent Devotional on Luke 2:1-7
The simplicity and brevity of Jesus’ birth narrative is striking. We like to fill in the blanks with our nativity plays and story books. In them Mary rides a donkey and Joseph always runs frantically from door to door trying to find lodging. This, and many more popular traditions, fall into the “it may have happened this way” category but none of this is found in the biblical account.
We are curious about the details because we feel it makes the story come alive. But we must not let speculation distract us from the essence. The Creator God clothed Himself with a body to enter our broken world and rescue us from sin. This miracle should capture our imagination. How easily we can lose our sense of wonder this season!
Luke says more about the context of Jesus’ entry than about His actual birth. He mentions rulers whose names appear in extrabiblical records and towns that still exist today (vs.1-4). Luke’s point is clear. What he writes is history, not fiction (Luke 1:1-4). Jesus’ story is not a “once upon a time” fairytale but as real as the assassination of JFK.
When Luke does speak of Jesus’ birth, he emphasizes His humanity (v.7). Messiah did not drop from the sky; He was born as an ordinary baby who cried, was fed, changed, and cuddled. Jesus’ full humanity is so shocking that some Church Fathers believed Mary’s delivery was painless. In their minds, there had to be something miraculous and divine about His birth. But nothing is farther from the truth. After Jesus’ birth, Mary did what all moms did with their newborn. She wrapped Him in strips of linen. It kept Jesus’ little body warm.
Christ did not come as a powerful angel but as a helpless infant. Not what most people would expect for the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. And yet therein lies the crux of the Christian faith. Jesus, the Son of the living God, took on flesh so He could identify with us and die for us. That is why we call him Savior.