All throughout the Christmas story, there is a common theme of God choosing to reveal himself through the lowly. The angel, Gabriel, first appeared to Mary, who was essentially a nobody; the first people told about the birth of the Christ were Shepherds, one of the least esteemed positions in society, and God’s son was born to a carpenter in a manger.
“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hid their faces, he was despised, and we esteemed him not,” Isaiah 53:3.
The coming birth of God’s Son was first announced to a young Jewish girl named Mary in the tribe of Judah. She was likely between the ages of twelve and sixteen at the time, and she did not likely come from a particularly wealthy or well-known family. Though Mary was betrothed, her fiancé was a carpenter, which was not a very respected occupation. However, God, the King of all kings, decided that Mary would be the earthly mother of the Christ.
Additionally, the first people to hear of the birth of Christ were not the Pharisees or high-ranking Roman officials, but they were shepherds. Shepherds led unsanitary, detestable lives due to what their jobs entailed; they generally lived away from society near to their flocks and were rarely respected, as they were dirty, poor, and uneducated. Yet God chose them to be the first to hear the good news of Christ’s birth, and He chose them to be among the first to worship His Son.
God’s Son, however, did not come down as a great Prince or victor with wealth and power and men at his command, as many of the Israelites desired and hoped for. Born to a carpenter and his new wife, Christ was fully God yet also fully man. He was not born in a great palace, surrounded by servants, as most would expect of the ruler of the universe. He was born in a stable, laid in a manger, and surrounded by a group of dirty shepherds and the lowing of farm animals.
Israelites expected the Son of God would be born to royalty and not peasants, surrounded by kings and lords and not shepherds, with the mission to destroy the Roman Empire and rule Israel on earth, like the kings of other nations, but Christ is not like the Kings of other nations. He humbled himself before all mankind, coming to earth not as a deity but as a man. He would not even be born in the luxury of a small town inn, but rather in a dirty barn. He would not surround himself with the Kings of other nation bowing at his feet but by shepherds bowing at his cradle.
It can be easy to dwell on the hosts of angels, the star of David, the luxurious gifts that the Magi brought and so easy to forget that Christ chose to be laid in a manger. God watches over even the smallest of sparrows, and He chose in the moment He’d planned for thousands of years, the moment the world had so desperately and unknowingly awaited for ages, to humble himself and present himself before the lowly in order to come and care for all men. The Messiah had come into the world, and his people would never be the same.
“When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb,” Luke 2:21.