God disguised His Son. You couldnt tell who He was by looking at Him. He appeared to be so normal
so human. In order to discover His true identity you had to listen carefully to what He said and watch what He did. But if you really loved God, then when you thought about it after He left you realized it was Gods voice youd heard when this man spoke and it was His power and compassion youd seen when this man ministered. If you were willing to listen to your heart you found it was telling you something your mind simply couldnt understand. It was as if God Himself had become a human and was walking among us. How could that be, and why would He do such a thing?
If you think about it, its not surprising that so many people didnt believe in Jesus. Whats surprising is that so many did
and still do
in fact, more people believe in Him today than any other religious figure on earth.
When He came to His hometown of Nazareth they couldnt see past His humanity. They had watched Him grow up. They knew His family. He was a carpenter! So they refused to listen to His words or watch what He did. They took offense at Him
and He wondered at their unbelief.
The Nazareth phenomenon
Every year Christmas confronts us with a mystery. The events of Jesus birth could not be more unlikely. It cant be an accident. God clearly did this on purpose. He intentionally disguised His Son. He hid Him from the eyes of the world.
Israel, not Rome
Bethlehem, not Jerusalem
A village girl, not a queen
A stable (or shepherds cave), not a guest room
A manger, not a crib
Shepherds, not the capitol city ten miles north (Jerusalem)
Magi from Mesopotamia, not the elders of Israel
Nazareth, not (any other town)
Galilee, not Judea
A carpenter, not a king, priest, military leader, scholar
There was nothing in the circumstances of Jesus birth or childhood years that said This is the Son of God. In fact, the events around His birth are unusually miserable: Mary alone, in a stable, with only Josephs help.
Listen to the prophets
Only if youd studied the prophets would you have had a clue about these humble circumstances, and the prophets themselves didnt even understand what theyd written (1Pe 1:10-12).
Micah 5:2, 3
Nothing in Jesus personal appearance revealed His true identity, because God was and is testing us. Hes looking for those who long for Him
the real God, not like the gods that humans invent. Hes looking for those who hear His voice when Jesus speaks and see His heart at work when Jesus ministers. And those who dont love God, wont. Its like a great parable. You have to look deeper than the surface to find the meaning. Lets listen to Jesus explain the process.
Jesus is telling us that our heart knows more than our mind can explain. We recognize spiritual truth and receive or reject it based on whether or not were willing to repent and follow God, not on our minds ability to understand it. This means were not nearly as spiritually ignorant as we pretend to be. He quotes Isaiah who says those who become spiritually dull do it to themselves in order to avoid surrendering to God. In other words, were often playing a game. A lot of processing is going on at the spiritual level, even while the cognitive mind is blanking it out. If thats the case, then more information isnt necessarily a help. It only increases our guilt when we dont obey. So God in His mercy hid His Son so that only those whose hearts are honest and willing to repent will see Him.
Now listen to Paul explain this process:
1 Corinthians 1:18-29
The Bible tells that God begot a Son and it doesnt tell us how. This Son fully shares His Fathers divinity in every way and has dwelled from eternity with Him in heaven. Then when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman
(Gal 4:4). He laid aside the glorious privileges of heaven and became a man (Php 2:6, 7) in the likeness of sinful flesh (Ro 8:3). The Son became a man, and will remain a man forever. Where is He now? At the right hand of the Father in heaven (Heb 1:13) and present with us and within us by the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:1-21). And someday, when the Father decides the time has come (Mt 24:36) He will return to earth for His Bride
all those who fell in love with Him when His glorious power and authority were still hidden from our sight.
The Hidden Prince
In fact, its like a familiar childrens story about a prince who disguised himself as a peasant and went to live among the common people. His goal was to find true love
a bride who would love him for who he really is, not for his wealth and throne. And if I recall the story properly the prince always meets a peasant girl with whom He falls in love, and she with him
and then the time comes, when he has to return to his fathers palace. But he promises to come back for her, and when he does shes shocked to discover that hes the Kings son. Yet hes determined to marry her because he knows she really loves him. She loved him before she saw his glory.
This childrens tale is not unlike what God did when He sent His Son. He disguised Him and hid Him from the eyes of those who would accept Him only because of His riches and power, and revealed Him to those who would truly love Him
because Hes just like His Father.
An ancient Jewish wedding
God is still looking for those who will love His Son. His glories are still hidden from our eyes, but He shows Himself to the world through His Word, and through us, His people (Mt 25:34-40; Jn 17:18-23). Lets go back and see what happened after He left Nazareth.
Once again, Hes hidden, only this time in the humanness of our flesh. And isnt it amazing
many still see Him and fall in love.
1) When did you fall in love with Jesus? What did you see? What did you hear Him say?
2) Describe a time you recognized Jesus at work through one of His people. If you think it would embarrass someone you dont need to mention anyones name. Just tell us what you heard or saw.