Christmas quiz time!
True or False?
- Jesus was born in a barn.
- There were livestock (as in cows, goats, maybe even a chicken or two) present at Jesus’ birth.
- Jesus’ first bed was made of hay.
The answer for all three, despite the adorable children’s Christmas programs you’ve probably seen at church lately, is likely false. Much of the folklore of Christmas is an addition to the simple description of Jesus’ birth we find in Luke 2:7.
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
The Bible never says that Jesus was born in a barn or a stable or that cows were among the first to welcome Him to the world. No innkeeper is ever mentioned and neither is a bed of hay. Sure, there was a manger, which might have been used as a feeding trough before Jesus arrived. But I’ve got to tell ya, as a momma of three babies myself, when you’re away from home, you improvise. (My babies have slept in a hotel drawer or two). There weren’t exactly portable cribs in those days. A manger would have kept Baby Jesus safe and snug as He slept.
Luke simply tells us that the inn (possible the guest room of a family member) was full. What jumps out at me is that from the very beginning, Jesus didn’t fit in.
In fact from the moment He arrived, Jesus would always stick out like a sore thumb. After His birth, angels would announce His arrival to a group of shepherds, a star would hover over His house like a spotlight for three wise men to find Him, word about His arrival would send shock waves out from Bethlehem and into the rest of the world. He may have arrived humbly, but it was never about flying under the radar. He did not come to tow the line, fit in with the crowd, or maintain the status quo.
Guess what? If you’re His follower, you likely won’t fit in either. There won’t be room for you in the usual places doing the same things as the rest of the world. By His example and through His Word He has called you to live like a salmon swimming upstream, more interested in being Christ-like than being like everyone else.
More than thirty years after that much talked about birth in Bethlehem, Jesus said these words:
“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember that word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me” (John 15:19–21).
Jesus was literally out of this world! Because of that, many would not recognize Him as God. There was no place for Him to fit comfortably as a tiny babe, and He would never fit comfortably into a world obsessed with business as usual.
But notice His promise! He chose you out of the world. As His follower, you won’t fit in either. The world that did not recognize Jesus as Savior may not accept you as His follower. The God who could never fit into the world has called you to a life built on more than simply fitting in.
There may not have been a stable. That cattle may not have been lowing nearby, but that doesn’t change the fact that there was not room for Jesus. That’s okay. That was never His plan. He invites us to stand out with Him. Will you?