Christmas is less than a week away! The time is flying by! As we continue on our Road to Christmas series with the list of unlikelys, today’s topic is probably the most unlikely of all. Unlikely places. The Christmas story is full of unusual details; however, considering it is the account of the arrival of the King of kings, some of the most unexpected parts are the places that significant events took place.
Joseph and Mary were a young, poor couple from Nazareth, a tiny town in an insignificant part of Israel. Unlike today, Nazareth was not a tourist attraction. People did not plan vacations to this remote village. Rather, fellow Israelites made comments like, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” So obviously, Nazareth had a negative stigma attached to it.
It was probably a little backwards with small town politics. Everyone knew everyone else’s business which made the fact that Mary was expecting a child scandalous news and the talk of the town. Young people in Nazareth probably did not dream or aspire to much more than living a quiet life and few expected anything extraordinary to happen in little ole Nazareth.
But God had other plans.
God has a way of doing unexpected things in the least likely places. So He chose Mary to carry His Son, and Nazareth to be the town in which He would grow up. The most unlikely place made it into the pages of history and became the identifier for the Creator of the world. Jesus of Nazareth.
However, Nazareth was not the only unlikely place God used in His story. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a small town outside of Jerusalem. It’s one claim to fame as the city of David was hundreds of years old and stood eclipsed by the more impressive and history rich capital city. So little Bethlehem stood in the shadows overlooked and unimportant until God chose it as His point of entry into history.
But even in Bethlehem, Jesus arrived in an unlikely place. He wasn’t born in the best hotel or even in a comfortable home. Instead, His first bed was straw and His first human view of the world was the walls of a stable. An unlikely birth place for the Creator of the world? Definitely. But it was all part of God’s plan.
God goes to the most unlikely, obscure places and makes them holy ground. He chose Mary, a girl from a small town with little dreams of being a part of God’s big plan for the world, to be the mother of His Son. He called Joseph, a humble carpenter, to be the leader and provider for the Ruler of the world. He sent angels to the outlying fields where the outcasts of society were living a lonely existence with the greatest message of history.
God chose the most unexpected people in the most unlikely places to participate in His miraculous plan of salvation. Christmas is the story of unlikelys. And the most unlikely aspect of all is that it even happened. God incarnate. Emmanuel. The Word made flesh.
A manger was His first bed. A teenage peasant girl was His mom. His first friends were humble shepherds. The first couple years of His life were spent in a different country to avoid an evil king who sought His life. He grew up in an obscure town without repute and was later rejected by those He knew. Unlikely places were a central part of Jesus’s story.
Therefore, as we draw near to Christmas, may we remember that God doesn’t always work in the spotlight but often chooses the most unlikely places to drop His blessings. So if we want to participate and behold the wonder and awe of Jesus, we need to start looking in unlikely places. We need to find Bethlehem and check the outlying stables. We need to talk with the outcasts of society and hear their stories. We need to notice the young people in our midst and recognize that they might be the ones God chooses to do the next big thing in history.
We need to be open to the fact that God still moves in mysterious ways and, thus, be prepared to watch Him work in the most unlikely of places. And who knows? Your small corner of the world just might be the next place where heaven touches earth and changes everything. Would you be ready for it?
“And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger,
because there was no place for them in the inn.”
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