Humble birth offers first lesson of Jesus’ ministry
Published 12:12 am Thursday, December 25, 2014
NATCHEZ — They couldn’t even find a hotel room, and the baby nearly a third of the world’s population would come to regard as the savior of mankind was born in a stable.
It seems like a kind of ignoble entrance into history for God incarnate, but some area pastors say the story of Jesus of Nazareth’s nativity just may have been the first lesson he taught humanity.
Today most of the world’s Christians mark Christmas, the feast dedicated to the birth of Jesus. St. Luke’s Gospel tells of how Jesus’ family — Mary and Joseph — was traveling to Bethlehem as part of an imperial census when he was born.
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“Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David; to enrol himself with Mary, who was betrothed to him, being great with child,” the Bible states. “And it came to pass, while they were there, the days were fulfilled that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son; and she wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
The setting of Jesus’ birth could have been in a nice house or some other place and the venue wouldn’t have ultimately mattered, but the stable shows Jesus is concerned not only with the haves but the have nots, said the Rev. John Kramer, pastor of Jefferson Street United Methodist Church.
“The circumstances say God is God and God will do what God will do, and for everyone to be humble before him,” Kramer said.
“The place being a stable indicates that Jesus associated with the lowly right from the beginning, that he’d go to anybody — that is how he started.”
As an adult Jesus would teach that the meek would inherit the earth, and the Rev. Jeff Brewer, senior pastor at Parkway Baptist Church, said being born in the manner Jesus was showed how Jesus would live his life.
“He would teach that if you wanted to be first among the disciples you would need to be last, if you wanted privilege you would have to humble yourself,” Brewer said.
“Everything he taught was really going back to how he entered into the world. It was more than circumstance.”
In Jesus birth can be seen a definite spirit of humility modeled that is part of God’s plan, said the Rev. Louis Sklar, pastor of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Ferriday.
“The thought of those in the leadership of the Jewish people of that day though that the Messiah would come would be who they were projecting, a strong king, but the reality was that God was going to come and work from the bottom up rather than the top down,” he said.
The biblical story continues with angels appearing to shepherds in nearby fields and telling them of Jesus’ birth.
Having shepherds hear the message first tells the world the message of Jesus’ birth is good news for everyone, rich and poor alike, Kramer said.
“The amazing thing to me is that the first people other than those who were right around the birth to hear about it were shepherds,” he said. “They were in a poor place — you couldn’t get any poorer than that, being a shepherd out in the field.”
In the Bible, Jesus told his disciples he had become poor so they could become rich, Brewer said.
“He gave up the wealth of the crown (of Heaven) and came down to Earth to be poor and humble and to be a servant,” Brewer said. “But Christmas is not just about the first coming but the second coming. The Bible teaches that Jesus will come again, and when he does, it will be in power and as a king.”
So as Christians mark the day, they look at one coming as a model for how they should live even as they wait a second coming.