More Angels, More Ordinary Folk
Angels are at work again, enabling all the small details of God’s awesome plan for mankind. This is the very opposite of ‘big-bang’ theory and not the way the Jews (or anyone else for that matter) expected their Messiah to appear. Jesus’ parents really didn’t appreciate who He was and how His short life was going to pan out. God touched the hearts of the Shepherds to witness his first days, plus Simeon and Anna when Jesus was first presented at the Temple. No fanfare, no bright lights, no drama.
It is worth clarifying a few misconceptions about the birth of Jesus. I have extracted the following key points from the Internet:-
- Did Mary ride a donkey to Bethlehem? Perhaps, but there are various other possibilities. The Bible doesn’t say how she got to Bethlehem. It only says that she came with Joseph.
- Did Mary arrive in Bethlehem the night she gave birth? The Bible does not suggest this. They could have arrived weeks earlier. God’s Word simply states, “while they were there , the days were accomplished that she should be delivered” (Luke 2:6). Arriving in town well before her due date would make more sense. It is 70 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem – see map below.
- Did Joseph or Mary talk to any innkeepers? Perhaps, but there is no solid, biblical reason to believe that they did. Although innkeepers play a prominent part in many Christmas plays, no innkeeper is actually mentioned in the biblical record of Christ’s birth. Furthermore, it is likely that Mary and Joseph actually stayed in a house with relatives, not behind some kind of Bible-times hotel.
- Was Jesus born in a stable? Or a barn? Or a cave? The Bible does not mention any of these three places in connection with Christ’s birth, only a manger. Scripture simply reports that they laid Jesus in a manger because there was no room for him in the guest room. The Greek word used in Scripture is kataluma, and can mean guest chamber, lodging place or inn. The only other time this word was used in the New Testament, it means a furnished, large, upper story room within a private house. It is translated guest chamber, not inn (Mark 14:14-15). According to some Bible Archeology experts, Jesus was probably born in the house of relatives, but outside (under) the normal living and guest quarters.
Not a lot is known about Jesus’ childhood. He would have spend many hours studying the Old Testament:- Jewish boys would study the Torah (The first five books of the Bible) at the age of five, the oral “Traditions” at the age of ten and be trained in halachot, rabbinic legal decisions, at the ripe old age of fifteen! Scripture would be memorised as they didn’t have laptops in those days, or even ready access to writing materials.
In this passage we have the first recorded words of Jesus: ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’. His parents must have been desperate to find him, given the experience of HEROD’s threat soon after he was born.
For a prayer today you might like to think of Jesus growing up in Nazareth and thank God that He was absolutely human and experienced all the pressures and temptations of childhood, especially the teenage years, followed by the need to find work and earn his keep. This probably explains why his parables and other sayings were so down to earth.
Here is an artists impression of Nazareth in Jesus’ time.