Quietly in the night, with no public inn available, a couple found refuge in a nearby stable. The woman would give birth to a son there, with the baby’s first resting place made in an animal’s trough. People in town were not talking about this birth or the significance it held.
A Humble Entrance
On the night the Son of God came, nothing about it was godly. However, everything about Jesus’ entrance was exactly as it should be. Jesus’ birth makes perfect sense when you consider He came for us. He came for average, everyday people.
In Nabeel Qureshi’s book, No God But One, he shares a story that explains the significance of God’s gift to humanity. He asks a question to a friend who is skeptical of Jesus and doesn’t believe God would send a part of Himself to a filthy, lowly Earth. Nabeel inquires of his friend what she would do if she came upon her daughter drowning in the mud while dressed in her finest clothes on the way to a ceremony. Instead of remaining dignified and arriving on time, she agreed that of course she would jump in and save her daughter, not caring if she arrived at the ceremony covered in mud. Going further, when asked if she would expect anyone else to do it, she promptly replied that no, no one else cares for her daughter like she does, and that she would want to do it herself.
Nabeel replies with the thesis of God’s saving grace: “If you, being a human, love your daughter so much that you are willing to lay aside your dignity to save her, how much more can we expect God, if He is our perfectly loving Father, to lay aside His majesty to save us?”
That is why Jesus is the greatest gift of all. God’s extravagant love, unending grace, and merciful generosity came to meet us in our place. He did not go to the store to buy our salvation or take out a loan to make ends meet. God covered Himself in mud and arrived at His creation with humility.
Reflecting God’s Gift
Although we can never regift the greatest gift of all, the stories of generosity that Jesus would go on to share are like puzzle pieces that create a bigger picture of God’s generosity. They provide examples of real ways in which we can bear the image of that greatest gift. Like the widow who gave her mite unnoticed, our generosity should come faithfully, humbly, and without measure. Like the generosity of the Good Samaritan, our generosity should be to all of our neighbors. As was the feeding of the five thousand and the water turned into wine, generosity should expect nothing in return.
While each of these stories share something different, they have one thing in common with God’s gift. They are all acts of love that require us to lay aside our own majesty. In today’s world, this can be hard to do. Paul’s letter to the church in Phillippi captures both Nabeel Qureshi’s example and Jesus’ parables of generosity in a prescription for us as image bearers:
Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing. Your attitude should be the kind that was shown us by Jesus Christ, who, though he was God, did not demand and cling to his rights as God, but laid aside his mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. — Philippians 2:3-7
We are to share the love of God and be stewards of His grace. We are called to lay down our dignity for others in a life of generosity, like God laid aside His majesty to save us.