The Scandal of the Incarnation

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If we want a true depiction of the Christmas story, we ought to consider the scandal of the coming of Jesus.

Imagine a dirty, dank, stinky barn full of animal manure. Now close your eyes and take a deep breath in through your nose.

This was the environment that the Son of glory was born into. This is the reality of the Nativity.

During Christmas, I prefer the smell of cookies baking, the fresh pine smell of a Christmas tree, and candy canes to the smell of manure any day. But if we want a true depiction of the Christmas story, we ought to consider the scandal of the coming of Jesus.


Hypothetically speaking, if you were the Son of God, how would you choose to enter the world? For one, I think I’d rather come down to the world a fully grown man, roll up in a gold-plated SUV, and skip the gore of an actual birth altogether.

I would have studied at the best schools, started the most charitable organizations, held the most important vocations, and been a best-selling author. After all, if you want to make a difference in the world, you’ve got to go big or go home, right?

Then there’s Jesus.

Jesus was born in a barn. He was laid into an animal’s feeding trough. His mother was known as a tramp, and his father was the butt of everyone’s jokes around town. He grew up in a poor town to a woodworking father. He never held an official position religiously or politically. He was hated by most of the good, religious folk. And he died like a common criminal. It’s not exactly a life that naturally inspires warm and fuzzy holiday celebrations.


I like the Christmas season, especially now that I’m a father. I love to dote on my two little girls, and we do all the classic family stuff: Advent calendars, Christmas stockings, candle lighting, the best of Bing Crosby’s Christmas album and all that.

But take a moment to consider this season that God loved his people so desperately that he was willing to be born into a barn among an audience of stinking animals.

Amid it all, I’m glad that the Almighty God of the universe loved his people so much that he was willing to come in obscurity, to live in humility, and die shamefully so that we might be forgiven and have life to the full.