John Alan Turner

Writer, Theologian, Consultant, Speaker, Teacher

A Baby?

God does a lot of things -- many of them seem strange to our admittedly limited perspective. Without a doubt, the single most unsettling, irrational, illogical thing he ever did was come to earth...as a baby! If God came to earth as a fully-grown man, we could understand that a little better. If he came to earth as an angel, a ghost, an apparition or a disembodied voice, it might make more sense or fit our expectations a little better.

But a baby? He was totally helpless. He couldn't feed himself or talk or walk or control his own bladder.

And have you ever been to a live birth? There's blood and sweat and mucous and screaming...and that's just the dads! The whole process is uncomfortable to say the least. It's unseemly. It's unsanitary. As much as we may not want to think about this, birth -- for all of its wonder and amazement -- is a yucky process, and there are parts of it that we don't even like to think about, let alone imagine.

This is how God chose to enter the world.

He could have chosen any way he wanted -- something miraculous and exceptional, regal and majestic. But he chose the ordinary way.

Worse than that, he chose the peasant's way. He could have chosen a major city with doctors, nurses or midwives and their sterilized equipment. Instead he chose a barn in a backwater town with no one but a carpenter's rough and calloused hands to usher him into the world. There were probably more animals than people present at his birth.

No, this doesn't make much sense to many people. The God of the universe humbling himself in such a way, emptying himself of so much to gain so little in return.

We would understand if royal officials were there eagerly awaiting his arrival. No one important showed up save a few dirty shepherds -- oh and some strange men from the east that got there several months later.

But the Bible leads us to believe that this is exactly the way God wanted it.

A young couple, miles away from home, are unable to find a decent place to sleep. They're forced to spend the night in a stable when she goes into labor and delivers this baby that has caused so much pain and would cause even more in his attempt to bring true peace, true healing, true joy. She wraps him in strips of cloth to keep him warm as her husband makes room in the feed trough. They're both unaware that magi are headed their way or that shepherds are receiving the shock of their lives in the form of a heavenly chorus.

This is our God, this tiny baby with fists for hands and squinting eyes, depending upon and trusting in two scared newlyweds for his survival. He risks everything in order to maintain his own integrity and rescue the people who have never been able to keep their promises to him.

The storyline doesn't make much sense to us, because it is we who are so out of synch with the way things ought to be.