CHURCH CORNER: Why would the story of the gospel have such an embarassing start?

  • Monday, December 14, 2009 7:40pm
  • Opinion

By Mike Iverson

Rainier Hills Young Life

‘Tis the season to give gifts, the season to spread cheer, the season to “sing loud for all to hear,” the season to remember and the season to put up decorations, complete with a tree and lights. But above all, it is the season to celebrate! It is the season to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the savior of the world.

As I looked at the nativity scene my wife and I have on a shelf at our house, this thought struck me, “How is it that such an insignificant, unglamorous event as a baby being born in a barn a couple thousand years ago is a basis for our society to change so drastically every December?”

Well, let’s turn to scripture for a moment. In Matthew 1:18 the author writes “when Jesus’ mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, before they came together, it was discovered that she was expecting a baby – by the Holy Spirit.” In the culture of the time, it was very, very frowned upon for a man and woman who were engaged to come together before they were married. So the fact that Mary was pregnant was a huge humiliation to Joseph, her betrothed. The idea of virgin birth was not one that was deemed plausible in Jewish society; so neither was Mary’s unexpected pregnancy explainable in any way other than according to the laws of nature, being that she and Joseph had come together. So why would the story of the Gospel, and the reason we celebrate Christmas, begin with such scandal?

The Jews, the ancient people of God, had been prepared to look for a Messiah, a savior. They were expecting this savior to be an honorable, respectable “Jew among Jews” who would issue a final and decisive blow to the oppression of Rome and free the Jews once and for all from outside rule. The messiah would reinstate the kingdom of Israel and reign as king, and the nation of Israel would become, once again, a powerful nation.

But why the embarrassing start? I believe that the story of the first Christmas, being the beginning of God’s perfect plan for reconciliation to the people of the earth, begins in scandal to show us that God’s ways are not our ways, and that God’s righteousness is not our righteousness.

As we continue to read about Jesus’ life, he consistently does things that are against the expectations that the people have for their savior. He behaves in ways that are very unconventional. He is friends with an entirely wrong group of people. His thoughts and teachings about God are considered blasphemous. And his life ends in the scandal and embarrassment of death on a cross, which was the most humiliating execution method of the time. So Jesus’ life begins, develops and finally culminates and ends in scandal. Again I believe that Jesus’ birth, life, and death all happened this way, according to God’s perfect plan, to show us that God’s Ways are not our ways, and that God’s righteousness is not our righteousness.

So this Christmas, let us remember, amidst the hustle and bustle of the season, that while the world around us screams for us to buy more, to pack more into our schedule and to show our love through giving bigger and better gifts, that God’s ways are not our own. Let us remember that we celebrate not the tree, not the presents, and not jolly old Saint Nick, but the savior of the world, whose name is Jesus Christ, Ye-Shua (God Saves) Emmanu-el (God is with us). Remember that God is indeed with us this Christmas season, and he saves mightily through his son Jesus Christ, who loves us with a scandalous love.

And that, my friends, is a reason to celebrate indeed. Merry Christmas!

More in Opinion

Concessions may be needed to enact carbon pricing

This is the sixth year Gov. Jay Inslee will try to convince lawmakers that the best means of fighting climate change is by making it more expensive to pollute.

Humility allows for tolerance of other’s opinions

Each of us has grown up in different circumstances. Each has been shaped by our life experiences. Each of us sees the world around us differently as a result. Why, then, should it be so difficult to understand that no two people will agree on every issue?

President Trump working toward the vision of our Founders

President Trump is working to return power and liberty to the people.

Inslee: ‘It’s our state’s destiny … to fight climate change’

In his State-of-the-State address, the governor made the case for an ambitious carbon tax.

Culture, politics have and continue to shape race relations

“The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.”

Better luck this year, Eyman

2017 was a stinky year for Tim Eyman. It ended with a thud last week when he confessed to not collecting enough signatures to get onto the ballot a measure that would reduce car tab fees and kneecap Sound Transit.

Fake news or bad reporting?

This has not been a good month for reporting. But one wrong fact does not fake news make.

Don’t label all Trump supporters as racist

While the column correctly points out that Trump supporters are happy with his performance and still enthusiastically support him, Mr. Elfers had to inject the liberal “lie” that Trump supporters are racist.

Political turmoil makes nations stronger

Finish this sentence: “What doesn’t kill you___________.” This is how I introduced my recent continuing education class entitled, “President Trump a Year Later.” Of course, this quote is normally completed with the words, “makes you stronger.”

U.S., Russia agree on Middle East situation

Since Russia helped Syria’s Bashar al-Assad stay in power and helped to defeat ISIS, are Russia and the U.S. at odds in the Middle East? Is Russia threatening American dominance in the region? The answer to both is no.

Page-turners: Best books of 2017

Continuing an end-of-year tradition that dates back more than 15 years, the King County Library System has chosen its Best Books of 2017.

Anthem protests about equality, not disrespect

For all who write negative comments about the football players who took a knee and posted that “this is not the America we grew up in,” let me share a few of the personal events from my life growing up in Tacoma Washington as a white woman.