There are unfathomable mysteries concerning the Messiah's entrance into our world, realities that are beyond our powers of comprehension: His divine conception, the manifestation of the angelic hosts, the miraculous star that led the wise men, etc. Yet, one reality strikes me as most profound: of all places where the Son of God might have been born, His birth came in the uncleanness of a stable.
With myriads of angels at the Almighty's command, we might assume the world's Creator would have orchestrated better accommodations, perhaps the home of a rich man or more appropriately, a king. Yet the staging of Christ's birthplace was prophetic of His life and purpose. Indeed, when I contemplate the message broadcast in the birthplace of Christ, I realize that He who was born in the uncleanness of a stable is not offended or repulsed by the uncleanness in me or you.
The Union of the Clean with the Unclean
As a backdrop to the issue of Christ's birthplace, consider: the Old Testament had over 250 references to clean and unclean things. In all cases the principle is the same: when something (or someone) clean is touched by the unclean, that which was clean is contaminated by the unclean. The fact is, cleanliness was directly associated with the holiness of God in scores of verses in the book of Leviticus.
Certain health conditions could render a person unclean, such as skin diseases or a woman's issue of blood. When one was unclean, they were required to stay away from their community until their condition changed and their restored health was verified by a priest. Lepers and others with contagious skin diseases were not only categorically unclean but in public were required to ring a bell while calling in a loud voice, "Unclean! Unclean!" to warn others (Lev. 13:45).
However, when Christ came upon lepers, He did not back away; rather, He touched and healed them! The unclean became clean! Beloved, with the Messiah, the entire principle of clean and unclean is reversed! Jesus, who is clean, does not become unclean by touching us; we become clean by touching Him! Just as the Lord affirmed to Peter, "What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy" (Acts 10:15).
Many people do not accept Christ simply because they are too aware of their inner uncleanness. Yet once we accept Christ, the indwelling of Christ not only washes us, but His presence makes us holy. Do you see? We are holy because He is holy. We are clean because His blood and His word cleanse us. We can never become clean until Christ comes to dwell in our spirits. He says, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me" (John 13:8).
This season, regardless of the uncleanness you feel inwardly, open your heart to Christ. Let the Redeemer enter. He who emerged in our world in a stable will not be offended at your need. Let His cleanness cleanse and heal that which is unclean within you.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Mary did not engage in premarital sex. Her circumstances, to say the least, were unique (Luke 1:26-28). Many young girls got married as teenagers.
Mary went to live with her cousin Elizabeth upon hearing about her pregnancy and “stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her home” (Luke 1:56). Presumably her parents owned a home and did not throw her out when they learned of her pregnancy.
Mary and Joseph were actually married at the time she learned she was pregnant even though a formal ceremony had not taken place. Joseph is called “her husband” (Matt. 1:19).
Joseph was a self‑employed carpenter (Matt. 13:55).
An edict from the centralized Roman government forced Joseph and Mary to spend valuable resources of money and time to return to their place of birth to register for a tax (Luke 2:1-7). Joseph’s business was shut down while he took his very pregnant wife on a wild goose chase concocted by the Roman Empire to raise additional tax money.
Typical of governments that make laws without considering the consequences, there was not enough housing for the great influx of traveling citizens and subjects who complied with the governmental decree (Luke 2:1).
Mary and Joseph had enough money to pay for lodging. The problem was inadequate housing. The fact that “there was no room in the inn” (Luke 2:7) did not make them homeless. If we follow one kind of logic, any family that takes a trip is by definition homeless and finds “no vacancy” signs is technically homeless.
Joseph and Mary owned or rented a home. It was in their home that the wise men offered their gifts: “And they came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him; and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh” (Matt. 2:11).
Joseph, Mary, and Jesus became a family on the run when Herod, a government official, became a threat to them (Matt. 2:13–15).
One could say that the Christmas story is about how taxes hurt the poor and government decrees can turn productive families into the disenfranchised by enacting and enforcing counterproductive laws.