26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[b] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
We all know this story. We have heard it, read it, listened to it over and over again. The repetition can lull you to sleep if your not careful. After a while, we become experts in the story, and in my experience, there’s pretty much nothing worse than an expert – at least in the sense that a person becomes such an authority on the material at hand that they are no longer capable of being surprised or shocked – wonder has been locked away, chained inside the prison of their own experience.
I bring it up because – THIS STORY IS CRAZY! (squinted eyes, high-pitched shout)
I mean, seriously, the earth is going to hell in a hand-basket and God decides to intervene…(seems pretty reasonable, certainly needed)…by sending his son…(unorthodox, but comforting, it’s good to know that management is finally getting involved)…as a baby, born to a 15-year-old Jewish girl!
This seems like a pretty major underutilization of omni-power.
If I were making the decisions, I would:
1) Keep the showing up in person part – that’s a nice touch.
2) Show up as a glorious, brilliant, fire-god-man figure with bronze boots, a trusty, golden war horse and a flaming sword. I’ve found that compliance goes up in direct proportion with the use of the flaming sword. Never, never, never underestimate the power of the flaming sword.
3) Consult with Michael Bay on blowing everything up.
4) Hire AC/DC to play live. This kind of fire needs Angus – not to mention, the irony of God coming to earth while ‘Thunderstruck’ is playing across celestial speakers is a moment too good to pass over.
Things I would most certainly skip:
1) The whole baby thing – it’s just so unlike God, with the dirty diapers and all.
2) Similarly, being born to a 15-year-old girl. Someone a little more qualified would have been nice.
3) The barn scene. This seems like a rather medically risky place to give birth, for people anyhow. It’s fine for the cattle but no place for the Son of God.
God wasn’t joking when he said that His ways are not like mine.
He could have done anything he wanted. He could have snapped his fingers and had the whole planet evaporated. He could have just turned his back and given us what we thought we wanted, rather than what we truly needed. He could have protected himself, remained distant, and just let things ‘play out’. He could have split the sky and showed up with a heavenly entourage, scaring us into submission.
But he didn’t.
And that says something about Him. What kind of God takes off all his ‘omni’s’ and becomes a servant – a servant to disobedient, rebellious people? What kind of God steps out of heaven and into time and space as a baby, born to a 14 or 15-year-old Jewish girl – and trusts that she will care for him? What kind of God becomes dependent upon the very people who need him? We often talk about our need to trust God, and we do – but here we see that it is Jesus who trusted Mary. He trusted her to care for him and feed him and teach him and love him. What kind of God does that?
One that we have surely underestimated.
In these days before Christmas, reinvestigate the story, the one you think you already know – and discover a God who is surprising, a God who trusts unlikely, unimportant people, a God who displays great power through great weakness, a God who really was raised in a barn, a God who is hidden in plain sight, a God whose love knows no bounds.