We watched The Nativity movie last night with Isaac. It’s a live-action retelling of the birth of Jesus, beginning with Zacharias’s revelation in the temple and ending with the flight to Eqypt. Although there were some intense moments in the movie, I’m glad Isaac got a chance to see it–until now all the depictions of Bible people he’s seen have been cartoons or drawings. I hope that the realism of the movie makes the authenticity of this story all the more real to him.
I’m separated from the Bible stories by thousands of years, thousands of miles and a world of cultural differences. There’s so much I don’t know. The film shows things I wouldn’t have thought of: like Joseph’s dirty hands and bloodied feet as he and Mary made their long journey to Bethlehem.
During different scenes, I swelled with emotion inside–and even teared up a couple times. Those key moments that touched me all have something in common: humbleness and humanity.
When Mary and Joseph are resting beside a campfire in the middle of their long voyage to Bethlehem, she asks him about his dream.
“The angel told me the child in you had been conceived by the Holy Spirit and I should not be afraid,” Joseph said.
“Are you afraid?” she asked.
“Yes!” He said, “are you?”
“Yes!” Mary answered.
Later he said, “I wonder if I’ll even be able to teach him anything.” Mary gave him a sympathetic smile and they returned soberly to their thoughts.
Mary’s labor was painful and agonizing, she trashed and writhed, cried and groaned with pain. And when the baby was born he let out a loud squall and started wailing like newborns do. The scene is not serene or lovely–it is gritty and sweaty and cold.
When the shepherds arrived, they were led by an old man with a worn face and a shaggy beard. He plopped right in front of Mary and Joseph, didn’t say a word, and reached out his hand toward the baby. He looked like one of the old homeless men I see walking around, and the hungry way he reached to touch the baby made me think of an addict grabbing for a fix. His ancient hand shook with desire as he reached out, hovered, then drew back, unsure. Mary looked at him and said, “He is for all mankind.”
As the magi approach and see the scene, they seem taken aback by the squalor of the stable. After a silence, one says, “The greatest of kings born into the most humble of places. God made into flesh.”
It’s been over two years since I listened to a message by Derek Prince called “The Grace of Yielding” and began to understand the spiritual principle of humility. The principle is that as we intentionally humble ourselves, God will lift us up.
I believe that intentionally humbling ourselves as we seek the Lord is the safest place we can be. In The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer says it thus, “Whoever defends himself will have himself for his defence, he will have no other; but let him come defenseless before the Lord and he will have for his defender no less than God Himself.”
Jesus yielded himself to God and man over and over during his time on earth, beginning with his humble birth and ending with his death. May God give me–and you–the grace to do the same.