Buchner couldn’t quite unravel it, but in our days of greater enlightenment we still say “Chance’d be a fine thing…”!
The line I always remember from the series A Team is the line “I love it when a plan comes together.” The line was probably repeated at least once in every episode, since the plan invariably did come together as the unflappable heroes triumphed yet again, against all the odds, every single week. Luke 2 begins with the passage that we read each year as part of the Christmas narrative, and it is easy to spot that same sense of head-shaken-in-amazement as a centuries-old plan comes together in miraculous detail.
“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” (Luke 2: 1-7)
Micah (chapter 5) had foretold centuries before (like Shakespeare foretelling the Beatles) that though the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, he would also “be called a Nazarene.” And in the course of events, the Messiah’s mother and legal father were living in Nazareth; and yet summoned to Bethlehem to fulfil the obligations of an Imperial Census that all the Roman world should be enrolled each in his own town.
If you are tempted to feel insignificant in yourself, think on that, that God can manipulate a whole Empire to further his own plans, and to bless his children. Don’t think, because you experience wrong-turns, cul-de-sacs and detours, that God is somehow distracted from his job as Route-master.
As Proverbs 21:1 says: “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.”
He is a big God for little people, and we have great cause to rejoice that, unbeknownst to them, all the kings and presidents and premiers and chancellors of the world follow the sovereign decrees of our Father in heaven, that we, the children, might be brought into the blessing of his covenant.
I love it when a plan comes together.
But…but: why didn’t God sort out the accommodation, then? Why was there “no room at the Inn”? I guess the question here is not what God could do, but what he willed to do. God’s will was that though Christ was rich, yet for your sake he became poor. The “No Vacancy” signs over all the motels in Bethlehem were for your sake.
“For your sake he became poor.”
God rules all things—even motel capacities—for the sake of his children. The Calvary road begins with a “No Vacancy” sign in Bethlehem and ends with the spitting and scoffing and a cross in Jerusalem.
And don’t forget that he said: “He who would come after me must deny himself and take up his cross.” We join him on the Calvary road and hear him say: “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you” (John 15:20). To the one who calls out enthusiastically: “I will follow you wherever you go!” Jesus responds, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
Yes, God could have seen to it that Jesus had a room at his birth. But that would have been a detour off the Calvary road. The plan that has to come together is a little more complex than we think it, then.
Lord, I believe that I am in your plan too!
So help me to trust you with the details
And neither worry nor seek to manipulate events.
You are in charge and I’m happy to follow!