The birth of Jesus 2,000 years ago, marked for centuries by the Christian Church on Christmas Day, brought God’s Gift to humanity. The Eternal God made Himself so wondrously close as to become a defenceless baby in the arms of a young mother. What a tiny and apparently insignificant start to God’s life on this planet – and yet so absolutely true to divine form. After all, the authentic hallmark of God’s activity – the imprint in the gold – is His overwhelming attention to detail and His infinite patience as He waits for us to recognise Him.
God could have sent His Son fully formed in adult humanity to occupy some dominant position over the human race. Instead, He came by supernatural conception to be first a tiny speck in His mother’s womb and then, the full-term baby born with every evidence of full humanity. This was a brave, bold and immensely modest start to God’s revelation in Christ. But it was also necessary for Jesus to be treated no differently from any other human being – showing His complete identification with humanity.
God’s attention to detail is found everywhere in the Christmas story, beginning with the predictions of Old Testament prophecy such as Micah’s word spoken a startling 700 years before Christ:
“But you Bethlehem… out of you shall come forth to me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” Micah 5:2
God also took care of the other details – the star, the angels, the shepherds, the wise men and, of course, the census which brought Mary and Joseph to the city of David. They were the right people in the right place at the right time.
The stage was set and the players were all in place. But the drama of Christmas was lost on the multitudes that were there. Only a few were chosen to witness it, otherwise Christ’s arrival in the world would have gone completely unnoticed.
Why did God work so carefully to plan this drama and yet for it to have had such a small audience? All heaven must have surely bent in wonder and amazement as the Christ child was born, but earth hardly even noticed it. Why?
It is God’s way – He is not intrusive. He speaks softly in the midst of the hub of life and waits for the hungry and humble of heart to bow their ear to listen. He will not trumpet His arrival in the world. The world must open its heart to receive Him.
The quiet, caring attention to detail and the patience of God waiting for us to recognise His coming in the smallness of the tiny child and in the stillness of the Christmas night – all this is the mark of authenticity of our Christian faith – the imprint in the gold. Jesus is real, the story is true, God is with us – forever our Emmanuel.