You may have heard of the woman who was about to give birth to a child on the hospital elevator, en route to the delivery room.
“Not here!” she screamed. “Please, God, not here! I can’t have it here!”
“Listen–this is nothing,” quipped a smug orderly. ‘Last year a lady delivered right out on the front lawn.”
“I know!’ wailed the young mother. “That was me!”
From our perspective, some births are ill-timed. Despite our planning and calculations, babies sometimes take us by surprise. Some might even say of Christ’s unusual birth, “God certainly could have timed it a little better.”
Doctors today warn mothers about traveling too close to their due dates. Yet God had Mary walking the 95 km from Nazareth to Bethlehem. (Some scholars maintain that, tradition aside, no Jew with any sense of propriety would make his wife ride a donkey.)
Hospitals insist on warmth and cleanliness to reduce the risk of infection. The Christchild, however, was born in a stable (hardly a sterile environment), where the only heat was radiated from the crusty flanks of some bewildered livestock.
Births today are superintended by specialists with experienced assistants and monitored by all kinds of sophisticated equipment. Jesus may have been delivered by Joseph, a rural midwife, or perhaps another traveling taxpayer, His mother attended only by sympathetic passersby and some astonished shepherds.
The circumstances of Jesus’ birth may seem less than ideal in our scrubbed, medicinal age. Yet Paul wrote:
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law…” (Gal. 4:4 ESV)
Daniel had predicted the time of Messiah’s birth hundreds of years before it occurred. Jesus’ birth in the stable of Bethlehem was no fluke. God knew exactly what He was doing.