First Noel   1 comment

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It was probably September when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a tiny backwater town in the shadow of the Herodium – King Herod’s royal palace.

The town overflowed with the descendants of David because Caesar Augustus had decreed a census and the Jews were permanently wedded to their ancestral land — you could sell it for a time, but every 50 years the ownership of it came back to you.

Joseph didn’t have a house there. Contrary to the King James translation of the Bible, there was no inn in Bethlehem as we know inns. There was probably a relative who had a large house where people could sleep on the floor. Maybe Joseph and Mary got there late and there was no more room or maybe at the first pangs of birth, the other guests demanded they leave or at least move to the lower story of the house where the animals lodged in winter. God was looking out for them.

Birth in the 1st century Jewish culture was a ritual nightmare. Blood in general was. A house where there’d been a birth required ritual sanctification, which involved not just the structure, but the people in it. Nobody would have been able to leave for months had Jesus been born upstairs in the human part of the house.

By being born in that lower area, Jesus did not inconvenience the other travelers lodging there, but more, his parents retained their freedom to move about. Because animals were born in stables, they were considered ritually unclean places, so the elaborate sanctification rituals involved in birth were not required and thus, they were not stuck there for months.

What’s more, the humbleness of Jesus’ birth makes it clear to mankind that God does not just deal with the rich and powerful or the special people wearing priestly robes, but with everyone — the shepherds, the truck driver, the fishermen and the maid.

Jesus didn’t come to the pope in his gilded palace, but to you and me in our everyday lives. He didn’t come to shower anyone with wealth or to shift the income of the wealthy to the poor, or to force one racial group to bow to the demands of another racial group.

The Son of God stepped down into history and become the Son of Man so that human beings can have the opportunity to become the sons of God.

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  1. Pingback: Christmas Wars | aurorawatcherak

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