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The Truth About the Nativity

December 21, 2018

If you go to “Google Images” and type in “nativity”, you will get all sorts of pictures of the night of Jesus birth. Most are less than authentic-looking, and many have people involved in them that were not even there. Sometimes people imagine the nativity scene with snow, singing angels, many worshipers and even a little drummer boy, but none of these were there. Who was really there? What was it really like? 

Luke 2:1-7In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole empire should be registered. This first registration took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So everyone went to be registered, each to his own town.

Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn son, and she wrapped him tightly in cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

We all know the story – Joseph and his very pregnant wife had to make the journey to Bethlehem because it was census time. A new Governor, Quirinius, decreed that everyone must be registered. There would be no postponement, no rescheduling for Mary’s pregnancies, so they had to travel there. 

This, of course, made their tax rolls more accurate so they could adequately tax the people, and the Governor could know how many he had authority over. Joseph was from the line of David, which was essential to the birth of the Messiah. This was spoken of in Isaiah. Perhaps it took longer for them to get there, perhaps they left later in case the baby came early…we really don’t know the logistics. In any case, they got to town too late to find a room. The innkeeper may have given permission for them to lodge in the stable or they might have just seized the opportunity.

Make no mistake, the only ones who were present when Jesus was born were Mary, Joseph and then Jesus. No shepherds were there at that moment, no wise men, no host of angels, no drummer boy, and no midwife. We see MARY gave birth to her firstborn son, MARY wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and MARY laid him in a manger. It was only later that the shepherds came. They got the word “today IS born”.  They were in same region, but they did not arrive that night. 

The surroundings were certainly not the sterile environment of a hospital. It’s likely that the stable where Jesus was born reeked of animal smells, and likely the shepherds did too. Honestly, it’s likely after traveling and birthing a baby that Mary & Joseph, and their clothing, was not in great shape. After He was born, he was not placed in a bassinet, an incubator – He was laid in a feeding trough on some hay, wrapped in torn pieces of cloth from whatever garments they had or could find.

Does this diminish the wonder, the awesome-ness, of this incredible event? NO – it only makes it more wondrous.

5 Quick lessons from this story

They were by themselves but never alone

  • When Jesus was born, it was just them and the presence of God. That was enough. Wherever you are, with God, it’s enough.

They had nothing, but had everything they needed

  • God could have made this elaborate, ornate, and majestic, but it was with purpose. The purpose was so that every man could embrace the simplicity and humility of this great event. 

They understood who God was and who they were

  • We have an unwed father, a child from the Holy Spirit, who was born in a stable. Their circumstances did not beat them down, but instead they helped to fulfill their purpose.

They were met by God right where they were

  • God meets you in the reality of your own life. From disgrace to Amazing Grace, He meets you wherever you are.

They were not limited by their own expectations

  • They knew the Messiah was coming, but not how. Now here they were as part of the story. God’s plans are always  better than ours. 

Truth is, there’s always more going on than you can see before you. During this Christmas season, don’t lose yourself in your circumstances. What looks like a manger may be fit for a King. God always is using your circumstances for His greater glory and your good.

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX

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