“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways … As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” Isaiah 55:8-9
Reflecting on Christmas, it seems to me that a number of “insignificant” details are sometimes overlooked. Now that’s not to say that the birth of Christ is insignificant in any way. Far from it. The incarnation is an essential and vital component in salvation history. When I say “insignificant” I’m referring to how the mundane elements in the Christmas narrative have so much to teach us about God. Consider the following:
At the time of Jesus’ birth the happening place in the world was Rome. It was what London is to Europe or what New York is to North America. Rome was the hub. Politically, socially and economically Rome was all that mattered. No one cared much about Palestine. Even Nathanael asked, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” John 1:46. But the size and importance of a place are of no account to God. He chose Bethlehem, a little town in an obscure region, to be the birthplace of the Saviour. God’s like that, He chooses insignificant places for significant events.
In Luke 2:1-2 some important people are mentioned. Caesar Augustus and Quirinius were the movers and shakers of their time. Like the President of the United States, Caesar was the most powerful man on the earth. When Caesar spoke people listened. But political clout is of little account with God. When God comes near it’s the little person that matters. God uses the seemingly insignificant people as key players. He chose a poor young couple to be the parents of the Son of God. He sent shepherds to welcome the Saviour. And He used a very old woman to give thanks to God and tell others about the child who would be the redemption of Jerusalem (cf. Luke 2:36-38).
The big news of the time was the census. Everyone had to go to his own town to register (cf. Luke 2:3). This single event would have been the talk in every bazaar. I can imagine how, if newspapers had existed, the headlines of the Jerusalem Chronicle would have said something like, “Quirinius Counts.” But in the Heavenly Times Quirinius wouldn’t have counted at all. He wouldn’t even have been mentioned. In the Heavenly Times the headline would have been, “It’s a boy!” For the events that matter to God are sometimes as “insignificant” as the birth of a baby boy.
Yes, Christmas reminds us that what’s significant with man may well be insignificant with God. He takes the seemingly mundane things of life and invests them with power for His honour and glory. But then we shouldn’t be surprised. For as the Lord declares, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways … As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” Isaiah 55:8-9.