When Joseph and Mary rocked up ap Bethlehem, it was to pay their taxes – no online submissions for them. They were looking for stable pricing for a night – what with Mary being pregnant – they got it – though it was the wrong kind of stable.
There’s no mention that the guy who rented them the stable was present at the birth of the Messiah, no mention of a midwife . There were third-world hygiene issues at play – a successful birth with a healthy child and mother was something to be thanked for.
And yet , this squalid stable and the birth of a child our of wedlock went viral.
The threat of Mary being stoned
The mother had been living in a safe-house for six months, since she had gotten pregnant out of wedlock. Joseph had stuck beside her as she hid with Elizabeth and Zacharias, he must have loved her a lot – knowing this was not his child.
The penalty for bearing an illegitimate child was death by stoning – not pleasant for mother or child. Jesus was born – not just in squalor, but in secret. How did the news get out?
Astral Sat Nav.
Three astronomers from Babylon spotted odd stellar activity in the west and they made tracks to Bethlehem armed with certain information predicted by prophets. It was a long-shot and it worked. They could have been joined by the local potentate – Herod – but they thought twice – after being warned in a dream to leave him out.
Herod had form and would prove again he was no friend to potential kings of the Jews. The astronomers not only kept the stable’s whereabouts to themselves, they saved the child to boot. There weren’t many new-born children surviving in Judea that week.
Angels from the realms of glory
While the astronomers kept it quiet, the chief broadcasters of Jesus’ birth appear to have been Angels (from the realms of glory). We have to attribute the viral spread of information about the birth to them.
Shepherds left their means of production – their flocks – just when they were needed most. This risky behaviour was justified because of a visitation of Angels praising God in highest and singing “Gloria” on a regular basis.
This amplification of the message led to shepherds visiting the stable and presumably to reports on the birth being spread around Bethlehem and surrounding towns.
A global superstar over 2000 years
What is so odd about all this , is that it led to a legend that survives to this day. The accounts of the birth that we have were written at least 50 years after the event but they are consistent with one another. The birth of Jesus is now the most celebrated event on the planet, knocking other pan global happenings into a coked hat.
There is no obvious reason for this. It is entirely irrational. The scope of the baby’s future followers surpasses the stars of YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at their peak. But Jesus Christ has had millions of follows for countless generations. He is a star in all three major western religions and his influence is strong in the far East, Africa, South and North America
No rational explanation
While it’s often been explained that had there been no Jesus, we would have invented him, no-one seems to be denying that there was no Jesus.
There doesn’t seem much point of denying Jesus’ existence – if you aren’t following him, any more than denying that there are a billion people on Facebook (or whatever the number is).
Frankly the significance of a bastard born in Bethlehem in AD 0 is totally insignificant.
And yet, you cannot escape Christmas, no matter how hard you try. The birth of Christ in a manger, in a stable, in an obscure Judea Town, in an age we know nothing about is still going viral every Christmas.
There is no rational explanation for this. None.
I doubt that this blog will reach more than a few hundred people this Christmas morning, but to those it reaches, I wish you a happy Christmas.
I have no idea how Christmas went viral but I am pretty sure that Jesus was at the centre of it, and remains so today.
Whatever your views on religion , you’ve got to admire the social reach of the guy.
Happy Christ – mass!