THE COMPANY HE KEEPS

(Writer’s note: My thoughts these days are foused in the direction of The Nativity, The Incarnation, the entrance of the Lord Christ into human history.  I hope you will participate in the study, and share your own ideas. What is there about this event which has caught and kept the world’s attention for 20 centuries?  ~dk)

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’

‘Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.’

″How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

“The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”

″I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her. LUKE 1:26-38

Jesus was called a “friend of publicans and sinners.”   And we’re told that the “common people heard Him gladly.

He was one of them.  He is one of us.

As I’ve reflected once again on the beautiful narratives of the Birth of Christ, I’ve wondered about the people who were “cast” in such an important  drama.  Why do you suppose God chose Mary?  Or Joseph? What kind of “background search” or audition would be conducted to find a suitable person for such an important role as hers?  Even though Joseph’s part was sort of in a “supporting” role, he must have been the right man for the job.  It is obvious that wealth was not a criterion for any of the positions.  Mary was very poor.  Simple.  Unsophisticated.  Probably unknown, by anyone outside her family, her neighborhood.  Going by customs which existed at that time and in those places, she was probably much too young to even obtain a ‘learner’s permit!”  Overlooked and ignored by almost everyone. . . except by God.  He placed value upon her simplicity, humility, purity.  Her complete willingness to do His will.

There was no worldwide search for the most beautiful, likely candidate for the role in which Mary is cast.  Beauty, notoriety, wealth, impressive credentials and accomplishments simply did not figure into the equation.

God has identified Himself forever with the downtrodden the simple, the disenfranchised. When introducing the one who ultimately would claim the title “King of Kings and Lord of Lords,”  God did not confer with Heads of State.  He didn’t need or heed their advice or wealth or power.

Think for a moment about the SHEPHERDS…WHO WERE THEY?  Not famous athletes, that is for sure.  Nor well-known scientists or scholars or Nobel Prize winners.  They were as ordinary as the guy who runs your grocery store.  Or works behind the counter at your post office. They did not dwell in an impressive, “high-rent district.”  When we’re told later that they were “abiding in the fields,” it means literally that they LIVED out there.  They did not have nice homes or convenient nine to five jobs with benefits.   They were certainly not high paid executives with obscene salaries, benefits and ‘golden parachutes.’  They were simple, honest and ordinary folk.

And wouldn’t it have made more sense if God had taken advantage of modern technology?  GPS, the Internet, CNN, Around the world around the clock instant international exposure for example?  The ingredients our scientists have only recently begun to understand and use WERE IN EXISTENCE THEN.  And, really, since God inhabits eternity, time as we view it is inconsequential to Him.  He can remember the future.  From His standpoint, the past, present and future can all be viewed simultaneously…It would have been a simple matter for Him to speed up time, or slow it down, so that our high speed internet and sophisticated means of communicating globally instantly could have just as easily been at His disposal then, as well as now.  He could have summoned the greatest leaders of all time (along with their influence and wisdom)  and brought the greatest news team imaginable to break the “Story.”  He could have used the most advanced technology in existence today, as well as the unbelievable improvements that are “in the pipe,” or still germinating somewhere in the distant future in brilliant young minds.  He did not do that.

While we’re “just thinking” let’s include The SHEPHERDS…WHO WERE THEY?  Wouldn’t it have made more sense if God had taken advantage of modern technology?  GPS (Think what an ‘addition’ that would have been if He insisted on bringing the “Wise Men” to the birthplace!) the internet, CNN, Around the world around the clock…The ingredients our scientists have only recently begun to understand and use WERE IN EXISTENCE THEN.

Infinite possibilities were available.  But what God COULD have done is not what He did!  That was not the way He wanted to do things.  In my opinion, He deliberately chose the plain, simple, ordinary, poor, neglected and overlooked in order that no one anywhere could ever feel unworthy of His attention and care.  He’s often chosen the “weak things of the world to confound the wise.”  He’s done that routinely, as a matter of fact!  And continues to do so to this hour!  If, in your eyes or the eyes of others, you have considered yourself the “least likely” of persons God would choose and use. . . It may surprise you to know IN HIS SIGHT, you may be the Most likely person through whom He decides to work tomorrow morning. That is the way He works.  And whom He uses and how He uses them and when and where is His decision, not ours.

It was never as if He did not care for the “up and out.”  But if He’d used such to break the news of His Son’s Birth and then spread it like wildfire after He was later crucified and rose from the dead. . . Some of us would have excused ourselves.  We would likely have said: “I don’t have that kind talent.  Or that much money.  Or that much influence.  Or that much personality.”  And, you know very well as I do, that if we had by our own ingenuity managed to “pull off” such a production, we’d have claimed the credit.  We’d probably have had the choir of angels trumpeting our praise instead of His.

When God chose those whom He used in this drama, it is another evidence that His magnificent Grace encompasses all.

No one is “unworthy” or “useless” or unloveable or unforgiveabale in His sight.

If you’ve ever doubted that fact, and if it is true that ‘repetition aids learning,’ you may want to read that last sentence again.  And again!

I’ve long believed the truth of the Incarnation, though I’m left in jaw-dropping awe when I try to fathom the depth and meaning of such an event.  But another very beautiful lesson we can learn from the accounts of the Nativity, is that God chose to use common, ordinary, simple people to make His point and get His message across.  And He used (and uses) them thereafter to take the message of the Angels to everyone else: “Unto you is born, this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.”

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9 responses to “THE COMPANY HE KEEPS

  1. Don – sorry so late in getting here. It’s never to early to start reading about the nativity. I love the idea of God “remembering the future” because he has access to all of time. How difficult it is for us to grasp that! The message here is a powerful reinforcement of God’s ability to reach out and use the ordinary. Like us. Thanks for the reminder for today.

  2. Joseph is my favorite character. Raising a Son not his own was almost unthinkable in Israelite culture. Living together with a virgin and having no union with his wife until well after Jesus’ birth could not have been easy. Leaving behind his life and righteous reputation to visit Bethlehem and then Egypt, fleeing by night—what a godly man. He receives too little credit. But then, a man such as Joseph would not have expected any.

  3. Anne – regarding your comments about Joseph, if you’ve not seen The Nativity Story, I think you would really enjoy it. It is one of the few films I’ve seen that focuses on Joseph and what he went through as husband to Mary and earthly father to Jesus. It’s given me a whole new perspective and respect for Joseph and has become tradition in our home to watch it every Christmas Eve.

  4. I really appreciate all the responses to Scripturestudent, and especially enjoy it when someone asks questions, makes suggestions, etc. . . and talks with each other. Most who comment have blogs of their own, and if you click on their icon (photo) you’ll go there. They have offered encouragement to me all along as I blogged and as some of the studies became a book. Neil, Brad, Marie, Anne, Nancy and others deserve your support as well. In my opiion, Bob Brault (a robert brault reader) is one of the most thought-provoking writers on the internet. He and I converse by email and he shares some great thoughts, but is also reserved in expressing some personal views publicly. I respect that, and enjoy his sit. Check them out, too. Be as kind and generous with your support for them as you’ve been for me. ~don

  5. Thank you for the thoughtful question, Leo. As I write, I’m working on the meanings of these words and similar ones. We use them so often without real thought, and sometimes we wear the words out with casual use. Like you, I’m trying to understand what they really mean. What words do we have in our language (or any other) to adequately and accurately express such profound concepts? That’s my question, too. And I’ll keep working to find the answers. Please feel free to share your own thoughts and we’ll pursue this together. Thanks again. donkimrey

  6. I second the recommendation of “The Nativity Story” – great film. One of the very few biblical films I would actually recommend (the other being “The Gospel of John”).

    Yeah, re: shepherds….can’t remember the source, but they were considered a very low rung of society at that time (as opposed to during the Patriarchal period, when it was a somewhat more prestigious profession). My guess as to the reason for this was the ceremonial uncleanliness — how do you wash regularly if (as you pointed out), you are camped out in the fields for weeks at a time? They were part of the “am ha-aretz” (עם הארץ ʿam ha-aretz, plural ʿammei ha-aretz(ot), lit. “people of the land”), what we might today call “rednecks” or the Indians “untouchables”. So the irony of the angelic visitation wasn’t lost on Doctor Luke, the urbane Greek, educated physician who recorded it.
    The humiliation of Christ in the Incarnation is staggering indeed. I don’t think we’ll ever be able to wrap our minds around it this side of eternity.

  7. Wow! I truly believe that you were inspired by God, as you penned this article! Never have I heard this wonderful event, explained so beautifully! God bless!

    • Thank you so much! We are going to enjoy this friendship. I’ve visited your site a couple times and enjoy what you say and the way in which you say it. Sounds to me like you have a good strong dose of that “ole time religion.”

  8. I think we will enjoy this friendship, as well! Whenever I log in, I usually find myself going to your page. I truly appreciate your input. It is very encouraging to me. It causes me to want to seek the Lord’s face even more, because I don’t want to write simply for the sake of writing. I want people to be blessed, encouraged, and uplifted. That will only happen, as I keep my ear to God’s mouth. We need a word from the Lord, not from me. God bless!

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