Trinity in the Birth of the Savior
“‘Look! The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will name him Emmanuel,’ which means ‘God with us.’” (Matthew 1:23)
In our culture, we celebrate the birth of Jesus as a magnificent and beautiful event – God WITH us – the Holy Spirit sent by the Father to conceive a Son. And while it is indeed magnificent and mysterious, it was also full of scandal.
A young teenage woman who was pledged in marriage to a righteous young Jew becomes mysteriously and scandalously pregnant (Matt. 1:18). In response, Joseph seeks to privately divorce Mary as to not disgrace her (Matt. 1:19); however, he remains steadfast to his commitment which meant certain disgrace for both of them.
When required to travel to Bethlehem for a census, this young couple was unknowingly being hunted down by a deranged, power hungry dictator (Matt. 2). When they attempted to find housing, they were turned out at every opportunity. Finally, they were offered refuge sleeping with the animals in a barn roughly hewn from rock and ripe with the pungent smell of crap. Was this any way for the One born King of the Jews to enter the world? I mean, He would most likely be widely known as the bastard son of a carpenter throughout his youth.
Despite all this, Jesus loved the poor, touched the untouchable, and kept company with thieves, drunks, and prostitutes – those that understood what it meant to be disgraced. And though He was innocent, others often played the “guilt by association” card (Matt. 11:19). And yet, this is a picture, a foreshadowing of what was to come when Jesus would unjustly bear our disgrace, our sin, on a scandalous cross – an excruciating death reserved for the worst of criminals.
The prophet Isaiah said it like this: “…he had no stately form or majesty that might catch our attention, no special appearance that we should want to follow him. He was despised and rejected by people, one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness; people hid their faces from him; he was despised, and we considered him insignificant. But he lifted up our illnesses, he carried our pain; even though we thought he was being punished, attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done. He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds, crushed because of our sins; he endured punishment that made us well; because of his wounds we have been healed.” (Isaiah 53:2-5)
May we likewise live as a relational presence IN the world, purposefully bearing disgrace by sharing in the love of Christ WITH those the world shames.