Christmas time (or more specifically Advent) is filled with many other concerns. But not least should be the remembering of God’s greatest gift – Himself coming into the world and takig on human flesh.
Christianity makes extraordinary claims – miracles, existence of God, uniqueness of Christ. But we’d be making a mistake if we were to believe that it is all extraordinary. We’ll be disappointed tif we expect it to be. This is because God often works through the ordinary.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the opening passage of Matthew’s Gospel, which is the opening of the entire New Testament. It is just a long list of names – generations of those who form the family line of Joseph, Jesus’ legal and adoptive father. If you were going to write the most important story in the world, would you go for an opener like that? Not very catchy. But it shows us something profound about God’s work in the world.
God’s work is ordinary. Nothing is more ordinary than baby-making. In fact, the most significant thing most of us will ever accomplish is to reproduce and continue the species. That’s a pretty humbling thought. But God entered the world, began His greatest work, and took on humanity precisely through the ordinariness of being born. But that within that ordinariness He was doing something extrordinary.
God’s does something extraordinary. Matthew shows us that even though this genealogy is about human reproduction there is something far more significant going on. The entire history of Israel is contained here. The origin of the nation with Abraham. The high point and golden age through David. The greatest humiliation through the Exile to Babylon. There is a far greater significance going on even though it appears just as a long list of names.
There’s an extraordinary ordinary. Most of us will never accomplish anything more lasting than carrying on the species. Most of us will be nothing more than dust under a tombstone one hundred years from now. But yet, we can find the greatest and most extraordinary significance by embracing God in Christ. Every other religion/philosophy offers a sort of ladder up to heaven – through spiritual enlightenment, through good deeds, through ritual, etc. But the Christian message is that God has come down to us, into this world, so that He might lift us up. He entered the ordinary, so that we might be saved into the extraordinary promises of God. That means that even our lives may seem mundane, they can be filled with God.