60 seconds with the general director Dec/Jan 1975/1976
MARY HAD THE LITTLE LAMB – sublime simplicity. Couched in the words of a nursery rhyme is found the supreme fact of history. God stepped across the stars to visit the planet earth, here to be born at an obscure village – Bethlehem; in an insignificant land – Israel; through a lowly people – the Jew.
MARY HAD THE LITTLE LAMB – profound complexity. That day a virgin gave birth; that day paradoxically the eternal God was born. He was to be called Jesus because He would save His people from their sin, and unlike the rest of humanity who were born to live, Jesus was born to die. Inscrutably, “He was the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).
MARY HAD THE LITTLE LAMB – divine humility. God became a man, became a servant and died a criminal death (Phillippians 2:7, 8). He did not choose to become a man at the peak of prowess and self-sufficiency, but as a helpless infant. He did not, as one might think, condescend to become a proud Roman or a stately Greek, but a peasant Jew. Who among us fathoms such humility?
MARY HAD THE LITTLE LAMB – majestic mystery. The trip of Mary and Joseph from their home in Nazareth to Bethlehem, under the best of circumstances, was difficult. In Mary’s condition, that difficulty was intensified. But God wanted His children there. And so He placed it into the heart of the Roman emperor to pass a decree that everyone return to the city of their father to be taxed. Both Mary and Joseph were of the house and lineage of David, and therefore had to return to Bethlehem, the city of David’s birth. This most certainly was done to underscore the fact that this Child was the legitimate King of the Jews. But more than that, it fulfilled messianic prophecy,
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old. Micah 5:2
How mystifying then that God should literally move the Roman world of that day to make sure that the King was born in the King’s city and then to have the King’s birth take place in a manger; why not a palace, bedecked in purple (the color of royalty), with regal horsemen and thunderous trumpets? This mystery can be resolved upon closer examination. The Bible informs us that the inns in Bethlehem were all filled. They did not offer the privacy needed on this occasion – they were communal in nature. The innkeeper, far from being harsh and indifferent, was probably being gracious. The manger under the inn would be warm, with soft hay, and there would be the privacy so needed at this time. But more than that, though the Child to be born was to be the King of the Jews, He was also to die for the sins of the world. He was “God’s Lamb” and, if one thinks about it, what better place for a lamb to be born than in a manger.
MARY HAD THE LITTLE LAMB, and because that holy Child was born, good will defeat evil; light will defeat darkness; truth will defeat error; life will defeat death; and God will defeat Satan. Rejoice and be glad, child of the King –
MARY HAD THE LITTLE LAMB.
Warmly yours, redemptively His,
Marvin J. Rosenthal