When the wise men came from the east seeking Jesus, they went to Jerusalem. They were looking for a newborn king, so they naturally went to the palace located in the capital city. King Herod knew nothing of a king being born, because the birth of Jesus was not one fit for a king.
Emmanuel, the name prophesied in Isaiah 7, means God with us. Jesus is incarnate deity. He put on a robe of flesh. He became mortal. The plan of God was for Jesus to literally walk in our shoes. Colossians 1 describes Jesus as the “image of the invisible God.” He doesn’t just become human, however, but in order to identify with each of us, in order to teach the lessons and live out the examples of Christianity for us to follow, he descended to the very lowest of the lowly. The Hebrews, or Jews by the first century, were God’s chosen people but they were despised by most other nations. Little has changed; watch this short video on the modern Israeli state. “He came to his own, and his own received him not.” Even among his people, Jesus was not born into nobility. He wasn’t born into wealth. He wasn’t even born in a building. Some great men have rose from humble beginnings, but you can’t get any more humble than the birth of Jesus.
The wise men were right to look in Jerusalem for a political leader; that had been the capital of Israel back in the glory days of Saul, David and Solomon. That’s also were one would find the religious leaders of the day, in the massive temple complex known as the Herodotus. Jesus is born to Jewish parents far from the palace of the king and the religious leaders of the temple. Mary would be a child herself by our standards, and as a carpenter Joseph worked with his hands. Manual labor was at the bottom of Jewish social standards, much like the shepherds who visited on the night of Jesus’s birth and the fishermen he would acquaint himself with later. Jesus was wrapped in cloth and laid in a manger. Just like our images and icons of the crucifixion, the nativity scene has been sterilized for our viewing pleasure as well. A manger is nothing more than a feeding trough. Transformed into a makeshift cradle by some hay, the manger was the first bed for the baby Jesus, wearing basically what we would call rags. Can you imagine the scene? Joseph and Mary are only semi-indoors with their newborn baby wrapped in rags, lying in a feed trough surrounded by the foul stench of barnyard animals. In this manner the Kings of Kings and Lord of Lords was born into the world.
Jesus lived a life of humility. The disciples he chose were also common laborers. He ate with tax collectors and sinners, and hung out with lepers and prostitutes. Even his triumphal entry into Jerusalem was on the back of a donkey. The glory of God was wrapped in strips of cloth and placed on some hay in a manger. We possess a great treasure, stored in jars of clay. Jesus became as one of us so that we could become like him. He gave us many examples, telling his followers to continue doing the same things he had done. Paul instructs us to have the mind of Christ within us. Now go out and be Christ-like; but don’t let it go to your head.