Gordon-Conwell Blog

Advent Devotional Day 22: Low People, High Birth

December 24, 2017

2017 Gordon-Conwell Advent Devotional

Day 22 | Low People, High Birth

Luke 2:1-20


Familiarity breeds contempt. That’s what the popular saying promotes: When we’re familiar with something, we may miss what it says or lose appreciation of it. Have you been there?

A few years ago my wife, Rhonda, and I went on an anniversary cruise in the Caribbean in December. Christmas music played monotonously over the ship’s speakers. At times we’d look at each other and sarcastically hum, “Once in Royal David’s City.” We do that with repetitious, canned Christmas music. Or worse, we may roll our eyes at hearing once again, at this time of year, the reading of the account of Jesus’ birth.

What do we do when we turn to Luke 2:1-20 to read it? Can we read it again for the very first time and hear the incredible message?

God chooses the lowly. This familiar text reminds us that God chose a lowly town, Bethlehem, in which the Savior would be born. God chose a lowly place—a stable—in which Christ was born. God chose lowly people, Joseph and Mary, to be Christ’s earthly parents. God chose lowly shepherds to be the first to communicate Christ’s birth.

Why does God do this? Why does God choose the lowly?

God chooses the lowly to show his holiness. Lowly Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph and the shepherds talked with the holy angels. The contrast between earth and heaven highlights the fact that God is different from us—God is holy, we are not. The earth is contrasted with heaven in this passage. Lowly people are contrasted by holy beings. The contrast shows us the difference between humanity and God. To be holy is to be different, other, transcendent, perfect—He is God and we need him. We aren’t transcendent or perfect, we’re in need of a God. We are very different from God, and we need him.

What, then, is the reason that God chooses the lowly to show his holiness?

God chooses the lowly to show in his holiness that Jesus Christ is Savior to all kinds of people. The angels announced Christ’s birth and the shepherds told others. The lowly shepherds were chosen by God to show in his holiness that Jesus Christ is Savior to all kinds of people. The shepherds were told that Jesus is Savior, Christ and Lord.

Savior was a familiar title to both Jews and Gentiles. Christ was the title of the Messiah. Lord had divine connotations associated with it. Jesus is Savior to all kinds of people. The angel promised (v 10) that the news would bring joy for “all the people.” Then the chorus of angels promises that this salvation is given “to men on whom his favor rests.” This salvation is for all kinds of people. The high-born and the low-born—for all on whom God’s favor rests, those whom God chooses.

We’re those “all kinds of people,” people, aren’t we? We come from different backgrounds. We come from various kinds of families. We may come from wealth or may have had just enough, or even from homes with barely enough. But lump us all together and we’re simple people in need of a Savior. We are lowly. But God is holy.

And what did he do? In his holiness he gave Jesus Christ as Savior to us—all kinds of people.

God chooses the lowly to show in his holiness that Jesus Christ is Savior to all kinds of people.





     Dr. Scott M. Gibson
     Director of the Center for Preaching;
     Haddon W. Robinson Professor of Preaching and Ministry





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