That God would take human flesh, and that not of one of the great and the good but of a child born of apparently dubious parentage to a young woman scarcely more than a child herself, that he would be delivered in a stable – these are things that are an affront to us as human beings. That God would make himself weak and helpless, vulnerable to all of the things that plague this fallen world is outrageous. That he would risk his person through being born in a stable, without even the most rudimentary of medical assistance then available, is ridiculous. Indeed, had one stood at the door of the stable in Bethlehem on that first Christmas night, and seen the tiny mite lying in a manger, it is very doubtful that anyone could have persuaded you that you were gazing upon the very fulfillment of history, the arrival of the last Adam, and were thus in the presence of God himself.
If we are to be rescued and redeemed, we want it to be on our terms, by a redeemer worthy of us: a great and mighty one, powerful in word and deed, one who strikes instant fear and commands immediate respect. It is an insult to us that we should be rescued by one weaker than ourselves. And yet that is the glory of the gospel. Of course, as Paul points out, this gospel foolishness culminates in the cross on Calvary; but it is foreshadowed in the absurdity of the manger. God needs no advice from us; he does not pander to our expectations; the eternal explodes into time, not with a bang, but with the whimper of a new born infant.