Born of Scandal
Matthew 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. *
I find it telling that God chose for Jesus’ story on Earth to begin in disgrace and humility. I am sure there are grand theological implications to the fact that Jesus was conceived of a virgin, out of wedlock, but I cannot miss the fact that He was born of complete scandal. I am also quite sure that this fact did not escape God. It was his purpose to allow Jesus’ earthly arrival to be humble, scandalous and underwhelming. It was as if He chose everything about Jesus’ origins to be the exact opposite of what everyone would expect.
This should not be surprising, based on the defective characters God chose to use throughout the bible. It seems that God is pleased to use people and situations that many of us would look down on today. David killed a man to cover up an affair with the man’s wife. Peter denied Christ in his hour of greatest need. Paul killed Christians.
Suddenly, I do not feel so bad about my defects. I say that only half in jest. It seems to me that God very much wants to communicate and work through those the world deems as defective. As I am quite defective, I like this plan. He is not afraid of the weak and the needy. It is the poor and humble who need God and thus, inherit his kingdom. The defective seem to be God’s kind of people. I am happy to count myself as one of his.
I am not comparing myself to Jesus in my failures. I have been the cause of my own scandals and destruction in the pursuit of my flesh. I am just saying that I have been there, at the bottom, when life seems to be over. I am done. I have killed everything good in life and I have destroyed any chance I ever had to be what I wanted to be. God cannot do anything with this…
Jesus however, came looking for the sick and needy. He did not spend his time recruiting the religious elite. He surrounded himself with lepers, tax collectors and prostitutes. Instead of avoiding the scandalous and the messy, Jesus seemed to embrace them.
Considering Jesus’ conception, David’s adultery, and Peter’s denial, it seems to me that God is saying, Just watch what I can do with your mess. You think you have screwed life up beyond repair? Ha! Do not think for a moment that I cannot redeem your life and make something fantastic out of your disaster. You may feel that life is over. It will be one day soon enough, but today is not that day. Now, rise up from your ashes. Abandon your self and your destruction and follow me. Just watch what I can do…
*For anyone keeping track, this blog started back in June, in 1 Timothy, which is just where I was personally at the time. From there, it progressed through the New Testament to Revelations. I am now, starting at the beginning of the New Testament and will work back through 1 Timothy.