Around this time of year, when all the trees come out and the twinkling lights and plastic nativity lawn statues appear, the story of Jesus’ birth is quite possibly the most common one told. In my family we have a tradition where we put the Mary and Joseph figurines on the porch, and on Christmas Eve we gather around my dad, read the birth story from the Bible, and then put the baby Jesus with His parents. It’s a nice tradition, and my nieces and nephews fight over who gets to put baby Jesus on the porch. At church, we are quick to remind one another, “Jesus is the reason for the season,” and rightfully so. He is the reason we celebrate Christmas.
But do you know how miraculous and amazing the birth of Jesus truly was?!
The “simple” act of egg fertilization is extremely complex and detailed. The woman begins to ovulate, her hormone levels increase, and the egg travels to the fallopian tube. Only during this very short amount of time in the fallopian tube can the egg be fertilized. When one sperm attaches itself to the egg, a blockade is built around the egg to keep all other sperm out. This is the moment the child’s genes and sex are determined. Over the next four days, the fertilized egg rapidly divides into cells, and continues to, as it moves through the fallopian tube until it reaches the uterus and attaches to the uterine wall where the baby begins to grow. It is astonishing that people are able to get pregnant at all! Each child is truly a miracle.
Just Like Us
Jesus was formed through that same process with one exception (or should I say egg-ception? Too much?); there was no male contributor involved! God Himself progressed Mary through the whole fertilization process without her ever having “known” any man. I mean, seriously?! As if His plan for fertilization wasn’t magnificent enough, He chose to create His Son without the essential element of the male contributor. God, the Father, handcrafted the DNA and sex of Jesus, personally aligning each chromosome in Mary’s womb. Even in the initial stages, Jesus was already fully God and fully man. But this majestic Messiah was still a human baby, just like you and me.
Let that sink in for a moment. He was just like you and me.
So there’s the pregnancy, but then there’s the birth. Joseph and Mary were traveling to Bethlehem to be registered in the census when it was time for Jesus to be born (Luke 2:6-7). God could have chosen any other time and any other place for His Son to be born. He could have opened up a room in the inn. He could have waited until Mary returned home. He could have provided golden, fleece diapers to clothe the infant. But instead, God chose for the Savior of the world to be born surrounded by dirty animals (which probably smelled really gross) and laid in a manger. Let me say that again. The Son of God, who took all of our sins upon His shoulders on the cross and defeated death so we can have salvation, was born outside and slept in a feeding trough for barnyard animals. It is the most perfect picture of meekness and humility.
Ordinary Yet Extraordinary
Although we don’t know a whole lot about His childhood before age 12, we do know that Mary and Joseph were not royalty. Joseph was a carpenter, so they probably lived fairly modestly. We know this because according to Hebrew sacrificial traditions, a cleansed lamb was to be slaughtered as a sacrifice for purification. If the family could not afford a lamb, two doves or pigeons could be offered (Leviticus 12:8). In Luke 2:22-24, we see Mary sacrifice a pair of birds and present her son to the Lord for cleansing; the family used what little money they had to honor God.
Jesus’ humility was evident as He grew. He went through the same developmental stages. He learned and progressed just like we did. There was no turning the milk into wine or walking on water to avoid bath time. Mary had to potty train Him and teach Him to look both ways before crossing the street.
Jesus was completely human and completely divine. Jesus is God, but He left the majesty of Heaven to be born among stinky animals and live as a commoner. He had a human body that got hungry and thirsty and experienced all the other normal bodily functions, too. He is a KING who was raised in poverty and awkwardness. The birth of Jesus Christ was the most humble birth, yet it brings the most magnificent and royal life of all — salvation and eternal life in Heaven.