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12 Days of Christmas (9): The Christmas Scandal – The Virgin Birth


Some things are so familiar we do not see them for what they are. I believe the story of Jesus’ birth is one of those.

We glamorize this event. Put it in “soft-glow candlelight” with halos all around. The manger may be in a barn, but there is no barnyard smell. Even, “The little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes….” At least, He does not cry according to the song we so often sing.

Moreover, there is scarcely a breath of scandal about the whole thing.

Of course, in our American culture, more than 40% all babies are born out of wedlock – even more in some of our sub-cultures – so we are no longer “scandalized” by a birth to an unmarried woman. In fact, our entertainment industry glamorizes such births.

It was not that way in Nazareth at the time Jesus was born.

Have you ever tried to imagine how Mary explained herself to her parents? Think about that for a little, and you will see why she hurried off to visit with Elizabeth who was, herself, well into a miraculous pregnancy.

After three months with Elizabeth, Mary returned to Nazareth. That may have been when she told her parents she was expecting. Let your imagination run in a very natural course, and you can easily visualize Mary’s father having a serious talk with Joseph, Mary’s fiancée.

Joseph, of course, knew he was not responsible.

Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit….” – Matthew 1:19-20

If Joseph was considering putting her away because she was expecting, what do you think the wagging tongues in Nazareth were saying about her?

Even when he was a man, the enemies of Jesus threw his questionable parentage up to Him.

“Abraham is our father,” they answered.

“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do the things Abraham did. As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the things your own father does.”

We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God Himself.” – John 8:39-41

Even in Jerusalem, the Jews knew a version of what happened in Nazareth at the time of His birth.

Our familiarity with the story and our knowledge of “behind the scenes” information keeps us from seeing His birth as the scandal it was.

Thinking about His birth in this light makes us appreciate Mary even more. When the angel told her she would have a son who would be called The Son of the Most High and be given the throne of his father David, she asked, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel Gabriel explained that it would be by the power of the Holy Spirit of God, which meant, “The holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her. – Luke 1:30-37, 38

Then the angel left her. Just as her Son accepted the scandal of the cross, Mary accepted the scandal of His birth.

Truly, Elizabeth’s greeting was appropriate:

Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!… Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished! – Luke 1:42, 45

Jesus, whose earthly life ended in the scandal of the cross, began that life in the scandal of the pregnancy of an unmarried girl.

How could God have come to Earth in a less auspicious way?

NEXT (10): DEATH OF THE INNOCENTS (Communion Meditation)

PREVIOUS (8): THE PROMISE – Genesis to Malachi


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