If Jesus came after the expectations and desires of sinful men and women, He would have come in a display of pomp and power that leant itself to human wisdom and pride. Instead, He came in weakness, poverty, obscurity, and ignominy. When, by faith, we receive Him as the eternal Son of God, though veiled in the weakness of flesh and set in the context of these counterintuitive circumstances, we have our eyes opened to see the wisdom of God at work.
Everything about the circumstances of the coming of Christ into the world was counterintuitive. We tend to pride ourselves on the fact that we know this. However, the more we bring the pieces together into focus, the more astonishing it all becomes. Consider the following counterintuitive details surrounding the birth of Jesus:
The One who dwelt in inexpressible light with His Father and the Spirit, from all eternity, left that eternal glory to become man in the womb of a young, poor Jewish virgin (Luke 1:34). The One who rules and reigns as the King of Kings was not born in Rome, Greece, or Jerusalem (i.e., centers of power, status, and influence) but in the small and insignificant town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). He who sits enthroned in the heavens, was laid in an animal feeding trough (Luke 2:7, 12, 16). He who brought the stars into existence, calling each one by name, went nameless during the first week of His incarnate life (Luke 2:21). The One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, was born to a mother who was so poor that she didn’t have enough to offer the proper sacrifice for His consecration (Leviticus 5:7; Luke 2:24). On the eighth day, the infinitely holy One received a covenant sign that indicated His need for a blood judgment to cleanse sinful corruption and impurity–as the substitutionary sin-bearer, though He Himself was without sin (Luke 2:21). He who was the long awaited King of Israel was welcomed only by a handful of despised shepherds and traveling Gentiles at His birth (Matt. 2:2; Luke 2:15).
Of course, the counterintuitive circumstances of the coming of Christ into the world also serve to highlight the glory of His divine being. The eighteenth century Scottish theologian, John Maclaurin, captured the juxtaposition of the base humiliation and exalted glory of Christ throughout His life in his sermon, “Glorying in the Cross of Christ.” He wrote,
His birth was mean on earth below, but it was celebrated with hallelujahs by the heavenly host in the air above; he had a poor lodging, but a star lighted visitants to it from distant countries. Never prince had such visitants so conducted.