The short answer is he probably wasn’t. The more important answer is that there was a reason for the humble birth of God’s son–a reason that predates time itself.
First let’s address the place of Christ’s birth. Joseph and his betrothed wife, Mary most likely walked the 100 miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem in a caravan of others heading to their ancestral homes in the south to register for a census decreed by Caesar Augustus. Since Jews avoided contact with Samatarians, those who lived between Nazareth and Bethlehem, they would have traveled on a route that followed the Jordan River east of Samaria. The one-to two-week, 100 mile journey, brought them to the small village six miles south of the temple in Jerusalem.
There, like most of their fellow travelers, they would have sought lodging with relatives. The Bible tells us there was no room for them in the guest room, (mistranslated “stable”) that would have been on the upper level of the house where people slept, so they likely bedded down in the general living area on the first floor. A common practice then was to bring animals inside at night to protect them from cold, thieves and other dangers. That may be why Mary, after delivering her baby, lay him in a feeding trough (manager), that then served as Jesus’ bassinet.
Of greater importance is understanding why Jesus would be born in such lowly circumstances. Jesus was with God when the universe was created. He was the instrument of creation of everything, including mankind, with whom he wanted to have a relationship, and on whom he could bestow his love and affection. But man abused the relationship and rebelled and in the process became lost to God’s companionship and his love. God never stopped loving man, and prescribed a system of sacrifice by which man could atone for his rebellion, generally known as sin. The blood of an unblemished lamb was let each year for the forgiveness of sin, but it was a temporary measure that had to be performed annually, forever.
Jesus, the creator of the universe, came to earth to take the place of the lamb, shedding his blood once for all time. How better for Him to become the perfect sacrifice than to be born in the lowliest of conditions taking the place of the unblemished lamb. God loved us so much that he sent Jesus in total humility to provide a pathway for the restoration of our relationship with Him.
The question is sort of an enigma or even an oxymoron. We wonder how this could be true, but it is sadly to say frequently true. Too often it is difficult to distinguish Christian believers from non-Christians. Why? Values and behaviors seem similar. Church groups are plagued with the same problems as secular groups. Christians are promised a new life in Christ but sometimes this new life is not much different from the old life of the world.
The apostle Paul confronts this condition in his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 3:1. “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly – mere infants in Christ.” Two thousand years later this same condition exists. Paul identifies some believers as “worldly Christians” who are like infants in spiritual development. Their guide for living is the ways of the world rather than the way of Christ. They are friends of Jesus but not true followers. Jesus is their Savior but not yet their Lord. The Bible is not their instruction book for life. They stay tuned to the message of the culture not the Word of God. They do not renew their minds with the Scriptures.
When we come by faith to know Jesus as our Savior, we are led by the Holy Spirit into a new life. The Bible calls it being ‘born again’. We have a new purpose, serving God and building His kingdom. We have a new joy, forgiveness of sin. We have a new power, the Holy Spirit. We have a new life, one that is good, pleasing, and eternal. It is a transformation that is as real as a caterpillar changing into a butterfly. Worldly Christians are intended to be transformed into the spiritual Christians, new creations in Christ, His ambassadors.
If this question stumps you, maybe you haven’t stopped to think about the many blessings you enjoy. You don’t need to have a great job, or perfect family, or new car or a big turkey dinner on Thanksgiving to realize that you probably have many reasons to be thankful. You might start by being thankful for what you have, instead of dwelling on what you don’t have.
Millions of people walk this earth with much less than you have, yet many of them enjoy contentment and are thankful for what they do have. Think about this. If you live in America, you are already among the most blessed people on earth. And those blessings come directly or indirectly from God–the God who created everything, even you. So take stock of your blessings and thank the God who has made them possible. Objects of your desire may fail you. People may let you down. But even if some things are not going your way right now, God still loves you, and He wants you to know contentment even in your suffering.
All that is required for true joy is a relationship with our Creator (Ps. 37:14), who does want for us to be happy and blesses us with everything we need (Phil. 4:19), even though we may not think so. When we have a good relationship with God (Prov. 10:3), like Paul, an apostle of Jesus, we will learn in whatever situation to be content (Phil. 4:11-12). We will find that the most important thing that God can give us is Himself (Eph. 2:8-9). Once we have our eyes set on God, everything else falls into place (Matt. 6:33). Thank God with your whole heart this week!
This is a very profound question and deals with both Christ’s purposes and integrates into Jewish traditions and Pharisee beliefs.
As background, the incident takes place in John11:1-43 and should be very carefully read. Jesus had two previous occasions where He brought dead people back to life; Darius daughter in Mark 5:35-43 and the widow of Nain’s son in Luke 7:11-17.
In each of these cases the dead person had been dead for a short period, one day or less. Hence, the Pharisees were saying they were only ‘sleeping’ or in a coma or such and were not really dead. Most significantly however is the Jewish tradition and teaching that a dead person’s spirit remains over the body for a period of three days after death and then departs.
Now with Lazarus, Jesus was across the Jordan, a two days walk to Bethany where Lazarus’s body lay. When the messengers came reporting all to Him, Jesus deliberately remained and did NOT begin his return to Bethany. When He finally did arrive FOUR days after burial, not three, to negate any doubts by the Pharisees, Lazarus was already embalmed with spices and wrapped with burial strips and in his tomb. It was then He called him out of the tomb and Lazarus was returned to life, with his burial wrappings still on him. Lazarus, alive again, became a part of the Jerusalem believers’ group.
This incontrovertible miracle so marveled and infuriated the Pharisees that that they now began their plan to have Jesus killed. Read about it in John 11:45-54.
Perhaps the best answer to your question is that stated by Jesus, as recorded in John 11:42, in His reply to His previous statement, John 11:11, “…I am going there to wake him up” which is “…I said this for the benefit of the people standing here that they may believe that You [the Father] sent Me.”
Do you have the joy of being committed to Jesus as your Savior and know for certain that you have eternal life? You can. Just invite Him into your life today. He is waiting. None of us know if we have tomorrow!
This is another most intriguing and somewhat perplexing question. It has been considered many times down through the ages by Christians and non-Christians alike. Back in 1320 AD Dante wrote the book, Divine Comedy, and it was published finally in 1472 AD. It describes his view of what torment might be like in various levels of Inferno or Hell. It is of course fictional but worth reading to get one perspective on torment in Hell for body and soul.
We, however, always look to see what God has said in His inspired Word, the Bible. First, in many references it says that Hell is a real place, a place that was initially created for Satan and the fallen angels. (Jude 1:6) It is also a place for all those who have rejected God’s free gift of redemption and salvation in His Son, Jesus Christ. The Scriptures are very clear that there is no condemnation or punishment or torment for those who have trusted in Jesus as Savior and Lord. (Romans 8:1) That’s the good news! Jesus, who spoke more about Hell than heaven, described Hell as a place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. In other words, a body.
In the book of Revelation there is reference to the resurrection of the dead nonbelievers with bodies as it says every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God. (Philippians 2:9-11) Unfortunately, it will be too late for those to enter heaven as they made their choice while on earth to say no to God. Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed onto man once to die and then judgment.” Again in the book of Revelation 20:11-15 we learn that the unsaved will stand before God in judgment and be cast into hell or the lake of fire for all eternity.
Finally their unsaved souls will be in constant torment and anguish. They will forever regret the choice that was made to reject Jesus. They will lament over thoughts like, if I had only listened, or if I hadn’t been so stubborn, or if I had only believed, or if I only trusted in Jesus. God gives everyone an equal chance to have eternal life and be forever with Him in heaven. So choose wisely while there is yet time. Jesus is calling. We trust that you will say yes.
Another great question as all Christians are called to go and make disciples of all nations. ( Matthew 28:19) First, it must be said that Christians do not actually convert others. Christians are to be Jesus’ ambassadors to the world bringing the Good News of the Gospel that Jesus alone saves. God does all the convicting of sin and the need for a Savior and the converting through His Holy Spirit. Second, a Christian’s conversations and testimonies are to be shared in love and compassion to all those of other faiths, to those who have no knowledge of God and even to those who are agnostics and atheists who deny there is a Creator. (John 3:16)
Christians do all this because they are instructed to do so in many passages of scripture and because they want to share God’s love and that joy of knowing Jesus as Savior. They want every person to experience that new wonderful transformed and meaningful life He gives now and forever to all who believe. When a person experiences God’s love and forgiveness and are saved from God’s wrath. So, why would they not want to tell others about their new life and Savior. Remember, Christians only tell others about Jesus, the Gospel and how He died and rose again for each person. We are only His ambassadors. We go and tell just like the Apostle Andrew said to his brother Peter, “Come and see. We have found the Messiah, Jesus.”
There is nothing greater than seeing a lost soul find Jesus as Savior. Now how about you? If you are a Christian do you tell others about Jesus? Perhaps it’s a family member or friend or colleague that needs to know Him. We encourage you to be that Christian friend that shares the ‘Good News” and points them to Jesus just like Andrew did to Peter. Then watch in wonder as God does a marvelous transformation in that person’s life. What happens really does surpasses all human understanding but with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)