A Christmas Homily: Why Did God do That?

According to the New Testament, the God of Israel becomes
mortal: Immanuel, God with us.

God can descend as an adult and live as a God.

God can choose birth to a royal house and live as a man of the educated
upper class.

Instead, God decides to break the Law of Moses by impregnating a young,
unmarried peasant girl who is already betrothed and likely to suffer
execution by stoning  for the crime of adultery.

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.” Matthew 1:18-19

Joseph later adopts Jesus as his own.

Everything about the birth of Jesus is unsavory in terms of Mosaic Law and the rigid class system of the ancient world.

“Unlawful intercourse with a woman betrothed to a man was adultery, because the betrothed woman was deemed as inviolable as the married woman. The punishment for this crime was stoning to death at the place of public execution (Deut. xxii. 24). The punishment for Adultery according to the Mishnah (Sanh. xi. 1) was strangulation; the rabbinical theory being that wherever the death penalty was mentioned in the Bible, without any specific statement of the manner of its infliction, strangulation was meant. The Jewish Encyclopedia


The child of an incestuous or adulterous relationship was branded a mamzer.

 

A mamzer was not permitted to become a member of the Jewish body politic (Deut. xxiii. 3 [A. V. 2]), and could not intermarry with a Jew or Jewess (Ḳid. iii. 12), although it did not lose its right to inherit from the husband of its mother, who, while not the legitimate father, was for this purpose the putative father.”’ The Jewish Encyclopedia

There is no room at the inn for Mary’s mamzer, so he is born in a cave where he sleeps in a device for feeding livestock.

(Away in a manger, no crib for his head)

So, why did God do that?

 

Animated GIF of Matt Damon doing math on a mirror
found on GIPHY

Why did God choose to live and die as an outcast?

 

 

Rob Goldstein 2018
Portrait of the Christ with Red Hair (c) Rob Goldstein 2018
Animated gif from GIPHY

15 thoughts on “A Christmas Homily: Why Did God do That?

      1. Absolutely. Here’s what I meant my brother:

        You asked some valid questions. It seems you are in search of truth. Anyone who really looks for anything that is hidden is bound to find it. Likewise, we will each see the truth when we’re ready to see it. A lot of times, we think we’re ready to have the answers but when we get them, we scoff instead of digging deeper. With that said, my encouragement to you is to keep asking with a prepared mind. If you’re going to keep asking and seeking, don’t give up. Sometimes the answers lead to more questions, but soon we begin to realize that it’s rewarding to keep going even if the first answer wasn’t what we expected. It’s rewarding when we continue along paths of discovery. With regards to your post, I would love to explain why God did it and I know it would lead to more questions many of which I can also answer…but sadly, I don’t have all the answers, so eventually there would come a point where you would literally have to discover on your own, learn to feel truth, and even learn compare it to what you had previously been taught and even let go of some of fallacies brought about by biases. It’s surprising how much clearer things are when one recognizes them from the proper angles.

      2. On follow up: I think I know why God did it from the perspective of the writers of the Nativity. Everything about the birth of Christ is at odds with the Law of Moses. But you are correct, the question goes deeper and perhaps it is best answered by our relationship to ourselves with each other as function of the divine.

  1. Hi Rob,
    God Incarnate is one of the Christain mysteries. However, can we imagine a world where this did not happen? From my house to yours, may you have a blessed Christmas.

  2. Rob, that is a stunning rendition of Away in the Manager…a perfect match for your striking portrait of Jesus. I don’t pretend to understand God’s ways, but I am so thankful for his gifts.

    Many thanks for a beautiful and thought-provoking Christmas post.

    1. Thank you, Mae. The story of the nativity is powerful as a myth regardless of one’s faith. There must be a reason the most powerful force of creation consciously chose to live and die as an advocate for the poor.

      Happy Holidays, Mae! 🙂

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