Jesus tends to our needs in our ordinary lives each and every day. He blesses, protects, gifts, and comforts us. As we celebrate Christmas, remember that our ordinary lives are blessed with a divine benediction as those who love God and are loved by God—a most amazing gift.
In the Old Testament there are several occasions where God worked dramatically—and his work turned heads—including fire coming down on Sodom and Gomorrah, the ten plagues in Egypt, the defeat of Jericho, and the cloud that hovered over the Tabernacle. But there are also times that God worked behind the scenes, through ordinary and humble means, such as in the story of Joseph (brotherly jealousy, a corrupt wife, the mistakes of Pharaoh’s butler and cupbearer).
Considering the magnitude of Jesus’ coming into the world, it may surprise us that God came with limited announcement (only a small handful of people heard the angels, and only an isolated group of searchers followed the star). In fact, there was much surrounding Jesus’ birth that was very ordinary and humble. God’s use of ordinary and little things amid declaring his glory and bringing comfort to his people should not only be an encouragement but also a source of praise and delight for his people as we live out our faith every ordinary day at a time.
God comes quietly.
In Luke 2:1 we read: “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.” At the very beginning of Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth, we are greeted with the pomp and circumstance of an earthly king who has “all the world” at his fingertips. This stands in stark contrast to the ruler of the universe who would be born naked and helpless, wrapped in rags, in a small insignificant village. John 1:3 states, “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” Yet, Jesus came quietly into this world, lacking the pomp and circumstance the world could offer. Luke 2 is startling as it recounts the ordinary, little ways in which God chose to come and dwell among us, as well as recounting the divine majesty that surrounded Jesus’ birth. We are reminded by this narrative that God is glorious, and that he is also quietly near to us in our daily lives.
God comes in ordinariness and humility.
The account of Jesus’ birth is full of not only the ordinary and humble but also the divine and heavenly. This mix of lowly situation and glory reminds us of the mystery of Jesus being truly God and truly man. Humanly, so much was ordinary or humble surrounding Jesus’ birth: A king gave a decree, as kings will customarily do, and the ordinary citizens obeyed. Joseph and Mary did what every other family would have been doing—traveling. They experienced not only the stresses of travel during late-term pregnancy but also the horrible (but ordinary) isolation that happens among family when you are seen as an outcast since Mary was known to be pregnant before she married Joseph. Nothing was outwardly special about this little family trudging to Bethlehem, nothing glorious. In fact, they would have been viewed as very unfortunate.
They would have struggled through their day, with Mary going into labor after traveling on a dirty and dusty road and Joseph scrambling to find any place for his pregnant wife to rest and deliver the child. Luke describes the scarcity of their situation: “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 2:7). Can you imagine? There are no extravagances, no extras. And yet, even in the most humble and, in many people’s eyes, shameful circumstances, the glorious God of the universe brought comfort to Mary and Joseph. He drew near to them in their sparse situation.
God reveals his glory, and comfort is shared.
While there is much ordinariness about the beginning of Luke 2, there is also great glory for we get to see the ordinary happenings of earth from God’s perspective.