Christmas always hits me a little differently when I am pregnant. As I write this post I myself am nine months pregnant, feeling mysterious kicks and turns, anxious for my sweet baby’s arrival, dealing with the nagging anxiety that every expectant mother faces about what lies ahead. I frequently find myself wondering what that first Christmas was like for Mary – a young virgin in her teens, carrying the promised Redeemer, the Word in flesh, the God-man. What did she reflect on as she journeyed uncomfortably for days on the back of a donkey, heavy with the weight of the child in her womb, heavy with the weight of the responsibility entrusted to her? Did she share her ponderings with Joseph? Did she even know him that well? Was she afraid as she began to feel those first twinges of birth pangs? Did she weep in an unfamiliar town, on the floor of a dirty stable, without her mother or a female friend to comfort and counsel her through the overwhelming process of giving birth to her firstborn – the Son of God?
God’s plan to redeem the world from sin and death did not unfold as anyone might have expected. So today we ask along with Mary, “why?” Why the manger?
Throughout the Old Testament, God gives us glimpses of His unfolding plan. Back in the Garden of Eden, as the first man and his wife stood shameful and naked in their sin and receiving the worst news mankind would ever hear, God did not leave them hopeless – He promised a Redeemer: a seed of the woman who would crush the serpent and make everything right once again (Genesis 3:15). Adam and Eve just could not have understood the amazing intricacy of God’s plan and the depth of His love – God rarely does anything in the ways we expect.
Years later, one man named Abraham received an impossible three-fold promise from this Creator-God: Abraham, an elderly man without children to carry his name, would have unimaginable numbers of descendants who would form a great nation, God would give them a land to call their own, and through this people, all the nations of the world would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3). Through this man and his family, God would bring the promised Redeemer, the Seed of Eve that had been promised many years before. God rarely does anything in the ways we expect.
God did give Abraham the child he had longed for. Isaac, named after the joy and disbelief-filled laughter of his parents, and those after him indeed became numerous. And once again, God did not form this great nation of promise in an expected way. He allowed them to be enslaved in a foreign country, despised and segregated from the surrounding culture, insulated to a great extent from outside influences as the generations flourished and became great in number. And in a way that only God could plan, He purchased them out of captivity and taught them vividly through the night of Passover that the only way of safety was to be marked with blood of a spotless lamb, to be set apart to Him alone.
To be continued…