At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. 4 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5 He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child. – Luke 2:1-5
How much say did you have about your birth? Did you decide who your parents would be? Did you set the date for labor to begin? Did you determine in what city it would take place? Did you name the president or political party that would be in power? Was the hospital one that you would choose? Did you name the doctor who would deliver you?
We have precious little to say about the circumstances of our birth. And if we would have a say, we would certainly prescribe the best possible circumstances. No last-minute trips. No delivery under duress. Conducive conditions. Attentive attendants. Favorable factors. You get it, right?
Interesting to me that Jesus – Son of God from eternity – chose the manner of his birth under to be anything but favorable circumstances. Last minute travel. Away from home. Labor will come. Birth will happen. Shepherds will visit. Mary will ponder. All this apart from any prerogative to the benefit of the newborn King. For although he put the stars in place, and came from above, and although he did determine when and where he would be born, he took no shortcut of convenience or comfort for himself – or even his parents.
This is not the way of natural man. Who would choose such a trainwreck of inconvenience – especially if he could make all the arrangements, and set the time and place? But Jesus is no mere natural man. And in a remarkable show of love he chose inconvenience, ignominy, and lowliness – all in order to redeem us.
So, taking into account our need, determining just the right time (cf. Galatians 4:4-6) and place (Bethlehem was prophesied to be the place, cf. Micah 5:2), in a very ordinary way an extraordinary work was being done. God was coming to redeem us. It was his choice, his good and gracious choice.