While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
God said through the prophet Jeremiah, “I am watching over My word to perform it” (Jeremiah 1:12). In the events leading up to that first Christmas, God was working in the darkness. Even though Joseph and Mary didn’t completely understand what was taking place, they traveled to the tiny village of Bethlehem.
The story continues: “While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:6–7). Luke devotes only two verses to this most important birth, the greatest miracle of all, the incarnation of God. Sometimes those words are so familiar to us that we lose the impact of what it must have been like outside that inn in Bethlehem.
I think C.S. Lewis was right when he said the greatest miracle of all time was not the atonement, and it wasn’t even the resurrection. The greatest miracle of all time was the incarnation. To think that the almighty God of heaven condescended to come to earth and place Himself in Mary’s womb, to be born on a cold night, and then to sleep in a stable with the animals.
I remember reading years ago an interview with famed designer Gianni Versace. The interviewer asked Versace if he believed in God. This is what Versace said. He said, “Yes, I believe in God, but I’m not the kind of religious person who goes to church or who believes in a fairy tale of Jesus born in the stable with a donkey. I’m not stupid. I can’t believe that God with all the power that he has would have himself born in a stable; it wouldn’t have been comfortable.” But that’s the point, isn’t it?
It wasn’t comfortable, yet the Bible says God was willing to leave the comfort of heaven to come to earth, to be born in a stable. Why? So that one day He could offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins.
Describing the incarnation, Paul says of Jesus in Philippians 2:6–8, “Although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Bethlehem Revisited” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2004.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.