Where Were You Born, in a Barn?
by Alan Allegra 11/12/2013 / Holidays
As if job hunting weren't stressful enough, different employers have different requirements for job applications. Some are content with a simple résumé, while others require major documents like birth certificates. At age 60, it seems superfluous to prove I exist.
I searched for that birth certificate for weeks. I found a treasure trove of bizarre stuff my mother saved, like teeth, pictures of chimps she swore were my baby portraits, and handwritten records of every naughty act I did, even if my brother actually did it. I decided to take one last look in a virtual silverfish nest before ordering a copy, and there it was! Good ol' Mom!
One of my high school gym teachers, who was grossly overweight and smelled like beer, taunted us with clever putdowns, like "Where were you born, in a barn?" I was tempted to drop the last letter and hurl the quotation back at him.
Online services charge hefty sums to trace your ancestry. Some people think that is important, while others don't care where or whom they came from. To me, it doesn't much matter; I can't change my ancestry or take credit for my forefathers' deeds. On the other hand, citizens of some cultures place great value on heritage, bearing the honor or shame of those who went before.
To ancient Jewish people, whose parental issue you were was an extremely important issue. Lack of ancestral credentials would keep you from being a priest (Ezra 2:62). It was necessary to know what tribe you came from so you could live in your assigned territory (Numbers 34:18). Kingly accession was dependent upon family succession (2 Samuel 7:12, 16).
In December, we celebrate the most important, unusual, incomprehensible birth ever: the incarnation of Jesus the Christ.
Jesus's birth was unique in several ways. It was predicted down to the precise town: Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). His virgin birth was foretold in Isaiah 7:14. He was God taking on human flesh (John 14:10). He was born into the line of King David (Matthew 1:1). In addition, to the surprise of my gym teacher, Jesus was born in a feeding trough (Luke 2:7).
The Christ's claim to the throne of Israel was dependent upon his lineage. Jesus did not need to present a birth certificate to prove who he was, although his was divinely recorded (Matthew 1; Luke 3). His life, words, and miracles proved his divine ancestry (Matthew 14; John 14:11). He is the only man with a prerecorded biography: "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself" (Luke 24:27).
Like a good mother, Mary kept a treasure chest about her son. This contained no mere trinkets, "But Mary kept all these sayings, pondering them in her heart" (Luke 2:19). She thought about the amazing prophecies concerning this son of common stock, born in a manger and raised by poor parents. These treasures have been preserved for us to ponder as well (John 20:31).
Being born is a rather significant life event; but it's not enough. One must be born twice in order to have (1) eternal life: "Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again" (John 3:3); (2) a new lineage: "Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12). "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1); (3) A new birth certificate that is never misplaced: "Rejoice that your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20); (4) the honor of Christ: "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Being born in a barn is humiliation; being born again is salvation.