This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.
-- Luke 2:12
If you have a teenager, he or she has no doubt reminded you that you just don't understand.
As a humble parent, you're told that you're hopelessly out of touch when it comes to clothes, school, curfews and a hundred other things. But of course, you know a lot more than you're given credit for. You were also once a teenager. And you probably said many of the same things to your own parents.
So, maybe you really do understand after all. At least a little bit.
With this in mind, do you ever wonder if God really understands all of the problems and trials you face every day? The familiar Christmas story in Luke's Gospel holds the answer. It's there that we read about Jesus coming into this world in the poorest of circumstances, with a manger--an animal's feeding trough--as His first bed.
But did it have to be that way? As the King's son, Jesus could have lived in marble palaces while enjoying only the finer things in life. And God could have commanded the people to worship and obey Him.
But it wouldn't have been the same. As our loving Father, God gives us free will and won't force anyone to accept His free gift of forgiveness and salvation. And since He knew from the beginning that men and women were without hope because of the way they lived their lives, God came to earth in the form of a man to live the perfect life. But not just any man: He came to live among us through Jesus Christ. Fully God and fully human, He walked in our shoes.
Jesus was born into poverty. And throughout His ministry, the religious elite despised Him and cursed Him, even though He was the Son of God. Soon, He would die in a most painful and unjust way--nailed to a cross between common criminals.
The circle of humility was complete. But by coming to earth, experiencing mankind's struggles and then suffering for all of us, God lived out the human experience and got to know each of us just a little bit better.
It was the only way He could really understand.