If it had been up to us, we would have given God’s Son a room in the finest five-star hotel in Bethlehem. But Jesus got only a one-star motel—and God had to provide the star!
When the shepherds hurried into Bethlehem to find the baby of whom the angels spoke, the wonder of God’s power must have seemed a strange contradiction to the conditions they found.
No halos hovered over Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.
Instead, they saw a poor couple surrounded by animals and the smell of manure.
Actually, the crudity of Jesus’ birth story offers really good news.
Because it had you in mind.
Modern Bethlehem and Jesus’ Birth Story
The merchant shops of modern Bethlehem make use of the town’s famous event by selling mass-produced olive wood nativity sets and Christmas paraphernalia. Not even in Bethlehem can we escape the commercialism of Christmas.
But just east of the city lies a large pasture known as “The Shepherds’ Field.”
Here the modern traveler can exchange Christmas shopping for the Christmas story.
No olive wood sets . . . just olive trees. No merchants hawking trinkets . . . just some local children holding lambs in their arms.
This rocky meadow represents the likely location of the angel’s announcement to the shepherds that first Christmas night.
Why would the Lord first announce the Messiah’s birth to lowly shepherds? Why would Jesus’ birth story begin in a barn?
Scripture reveals that “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise,” and Jesus Himself would later pray:
I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. —Luke 10:21
God choose such an ignoble beginning for such an important birth, perhaps for the same reason He would choose such an ignoble death for such an exemplary life.