No Vacancy Sign in Bethlehem
As a family, we have enjoyed anticipating Jesus' coming this Advent in part through following John Piper's Good News of Great Joy in our family devotions. While meditating afresh on Jesus' first coming--the before, during, and after--a couple of things have been particularly insightful.
I was reminded of God's sovereignty in salvation and how God orchestrated the events for Jesus to be born in Bethlehem and fulfill biblical prophecy (i.e. Micah 5:2). Piper writes:
"the Messiah’s mother and legal father were living in Nazareth; and that in order to fulfill his word and bring two little people to Bethlehem that first Christmas, God put it in the heart of Caesar Augustus that all the Roman world should be enrolled each in his own town?" (Good News, 7).
While God is almighty in salvation, the Father was also pleased that the King of Kings would be humiliated--born into humble circumstances, into a poor family, in a small, insignificant nation. This humility would also show itself in the Messiah's voluntary suffering at the cross. Piper comments:
"you would think that if God so rules the world as to use an empire-wide census to bring Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, he surely could have seen to it that a room was available in the inn" (Good News, 9).
"The Calvary road begins with a 'No Vacancy' sign in Bethlehem and ends with the spitting and scoffing of the cross in Jerusalem" (Good News, 10).
These reflections move me to admire the deliberate lowliness of my Savior and to want to emulate him in his humility and even suffering.