My Musings

The BIG Picture Behind the Birth!

The BIG Picture Behind the Birth!

The baby Jesus was not just any ol’ baby coming in the same ol’ way. According to the gospels, he was the Son of God, born of a virgin named Mary. And unlike the rest of us, Jesus actually chose to “empty himself” and leave the comforts of heaven to be born (Philippians 2:5-8).

This unusual arrival was not initially appreciated by all. When Joseph first learned of Mary’s pregnancy, he didn’t hang mistletoe, send out cards, get gifts or build a warm fire and sip eggnog. No, he contemplated a divorce. Thankfully, an angel arrived to help Joseph see a bigger picture.

This big picture, however, didn’t help many months later when Joseph was looking for a place in Bethlehem to stay for the night. They ended up in a stable where Mary had her first baby. Again, no cozy fireplace.

There was also grave discontent over this birth in high places. In 40 BC, Herod the Great was pronounced “king of the Jews” by the Roman Senate. He was not amused nearly 40 years later when the Magi came to Judea looking for another “king of the Jews” (Matthew 2:1). This news of a royal birth troubled Herod and all Jerusalem. He deceitfully asked the Magi to report back when they found this king. When they missed that appointment, Herod was furious. He ordered all baby boys in Bethlehem to be slaughtered.

“Mariamne,” by John William Waterhouse

Herod was a jealous and paranoid man. He used to dress as a commoner and circulate among his citizens to see what they thought of him and discover potential challenges to his throne. There was also great jealousy in Herod’s house. When his sister became jealous of the influence of Herod’s first wife, Mariamme, she told Herod that his wife was being unfaithful. The charge was baseless but he ordered Mariamme killed. The same fate fell upon at least three of his sons when they were suspected of rebellion. With such a willingness to kill family members over gossip and innuendo, the killing of other people’s babies would have been second nature to Herod. Jesus escaped Herod’s wrath after an angel warned his parents to flee to Egypt where they remained until Herod died.

Nearing death, Herod ordered the arrest of 70 elders of Israel who were to be put to death when Herod died so all Israel would mourn his passing. However, after his death, the 70 were released, transforming Herod’s funeral into a day of celebration.

Today, the birth of Jesus evokes widespread celebration because many of us see the bigger picture behind it. Yet, Jesus still troubles paranoid people. In fact, politicians still use baby-killing policies to stay in power. Like Herod, many still miss the big picture.

How are you doing with the big picture this Christmas? Holiday frustrations and disappointments can take a lot out of our joy. Christmas does not always offer us a “holiday” from life’s hurts and heartaches. Losing a loved one can make Christmas tough to bear. Here’s the BIG picture:

      When Jesus was born, God’s plan to forgive our sins began. That’s why we can celebrate his birth as well as his life, death and resurrection. When God’s big-picture plan is clear, paranoia loses its power.

 

Photo Credits

Joseph and Mary

Mariamne

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About the Author:

Joel graduated from Pepperdine University with a B.A., completing two majors: Art and Religion. He went on to earn the Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.

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