In the nativity scene, the smallest part is the most important part. The baby. Jesus. Nativity is from the Latin ‘natal’ meaning birth. But we can’t leave Him as a baby and dwell only on the birth. Two things about this birth scene. First – the smallest part became the biggest part. Second, it was grittier than you want to think.
First – When God chose to come to earth and be born.
His choice was to identify completely with us, because of His great love for us. Jesus had to be born naturally, cared for, raised, nurtured, allowed to grow over time into Who God saw Him to be. 100% human and 100% God. Then, at the age of thirty, it was time to begin His three-year earthly ministry headed for the cross. He went from the smallest part of a gritty birth setting to the throne of the universe in thirty-three years. “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52. Jesus went from being the smallest part of a most unlikely scene, to the One who would die to give an opportunity for the whole world to be reconciled to God. We can’t leave Him as a baby. Or us. If Christ had to grow in wisdom and stature, why do we so often condemn ourselves and others for not changing quickly enough? We can become who God sees us to be. Even for God, it was many years.
Second – God chose a lowly manger.
Would no one in Bethlehem give up their place for a pregnant woman to give birth? Welcome to earth, Jesus!!! Let’s put you in a feeding trough! This manger was gritty and smelly. My grandad had a dairy farm. The area of the ‘feeding trough’ had more mud and manure than you could imagine. The manger scene at our house is very sterile. No manure, no smell. God chose to be one of us and to show up in an unlikely place so we would not get the idea that He was an earthly king. You have read, or heard it said, that this birth was so un-king-like. Because His kingdom, where He lives, is our hearts. Sometimes, if we do not grow in wisdom and stature, our hearts can be more like the manger than we wish to admit. Mud and manure. But, He is gracious. He was willing to be born in a manger, He is willing to live in your heart.
Why not ask the One who loved us so much, that He gave up heaven to come be with us? Ask Him: What needs to change for me to look more like you?
He will graciously, with no condemnation, answer you – because of His great love for you.