“He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:5–7, NIV84)
Why does God do so much of His most important work so covertly? Don’t get me wrong. There are moments when He lets it all out. You can’t help but look at the 6 days of creation and not have your jaw hanging open. God creating substance/matter out of nothing with only His Word. WOW! And again, the 10 plagues and the release of the Israelites out of captivity was pretty stunning. I’m not saying God doesn’t do outwardly amazing things. But I find it interesting that when it has the most significance, He seems to be a little covert. Nothing is more significant than the birth of the Messiah. But if you look over the events, so much of it is covert. When Zechariah and Mary have their encounter with the angel Gabriel, no one else is present. Imagine if hundreds or even thousands of people heard what the angel Gabriel said to them. But no. God could have had an external battle of wills with Augustus so that when God forced the census to happen, everyone would have known that it was God’s will and not Augustus’ will being exerted. But no. During this most significant of events God chose to work His will in the background. Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem just in time to have their baby (the Son of God, the Messiah, the long-awaited Savior), and all that is said is that there was no room for them at the inn, so they had their child in a manger. That’s it! No fireworks, earthquakes, stars exploding. Simply and quietly Jesus was born in a stable filled with animals. No one else to witnessed the event. Why? Why does God seem to do His most significant work so quietly and humbly?
I think for at least two key reasons. The first is that during this most significant event we would be focused on the event and not on the fanfare. God wanted the focus on Jesus and not on earthquakes and exploding stars. He wanted nothing to distract us from His work of redemption in Jesus. Second, He wants us to know that life is not always explosive and miraculous, but that doesn’t mean that God is not active. When our lives are as mundane as Joseph’s and Mary’s traveling to Bethlehem, He is still ever-present in our lives working His will. My point is that I think too many Christians think that a relationship with God is always exciting and on fire, and when it’s not, they are concerned about their faith and their relationship. God is telling us in all that He does in the early chapters of Luke that He is always active. He never stops. We can trust that even when we don’t feel perky and nothing amazing is happening in our lives, He is still just as close and just as faithfully working.
Today, may we be awed and amazed at the great works of God — even the ones we don’t see!