Proverbs says that God does not have the time of day for the proud and arrogant, but he is ready to show grace to the humble (Prov 3:34). That was demonstrated in the Christmas story. When you think of Christmas, do you think of the nativity scene in Bethlehem? Even though we are 2000 years removed from that stable in Bethlehem where Jesus was born, the Christmas story is still a story of beauty and wonder. The narrative of Christ’s birth is so riveting because it is fixed in history with an actual place and real characters.
When God sent his mighty angel Gabriel to deliver the message of the coming Messiah, he did not go to the proud of Jerusalem but instead to the humble of Galilee. A similar thing happened in the life of Abraham Lincoln. As his second term approached, a letter from an eight-year-old girl arrived suggesting he grow a beard because it would help him get re-elected. Rather than being offended, Lincoln answered her letter personally and thanked her for her suggestion. He told her, that should his campaign ever come to her town, he would like to meet her. The adults in the city were excited to hear about the possibility of the president’s visit, and they prepared for it with enthusiasm.
When Lincoln’s campaign did travel in the direction of the town, a strange thing happened. The train broke down just shy of reaching the town, so the president went on foot to find the little girl. The town was practically empty because everyone was at the station waiting to see Mr. Lincoln, except the little girl. When Lincoln introduced himself at the door, the maid was speechless, but the little girl and her playmate welcomed him in as if they were expecting him. He drank pretend tea and had an excellent visit with them. Lincoln’s campaign train went right through the town without stopping! It went right past all the waiting politicians and local dignitaries and all the hype. For Lincoln had just come to visit with and say thank you to an eight-year-old girl.[i]
The angel Gabriel, who brought the exclusive announcement of the Savior’s birth, ignored Judea and came to Nazareth, a town not even named in the entire Old Testament. Gabriel entered the humble home of Mary who was only an ordinary teenager with no significance to her life—that is to the world, but not to God. She had been chosen for a special calling from God, and that was to be the mother of our savior.
The Lord comes to needy people, those who realize that without him they cannot make it. Mary knew she needed God, and God saw her heart. That is why he ignored the big shots in Jerusalem and sent Gabriel to this hole-in-the-wall place.
The angel told Mary that she would become
pregnant and give birth to a son. Her conception would be supernatural, and the
child would be great—he would be the Son of God. Gabriel told her to name him
Jesus, and he will sit on David’s throne forever (Luke 1:28-32). What an
incredible message the angel delivered! Mary readily accepted the message and
asked that everything happen as the angel had said (Luke 1:38). What faith!
What acceptance! What humility! No wonder God overlooked the proud and sought
out the humble to deliver the Christmas message. He still does that today too!
[i] Conrad Hyers, And God Created Laughter, Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1987).