• Josh Phillips

The Counter-Intuitive Nature Of Jesus-Part One: His Birth

Updated: Mar 20

Why is my own rational sometimes challenged by Jesus? His coming and birth are shaped by the life of a prostitute and a lowly, potentially unsanitary birthplace. Who is this Jesus?



We've Seen This Movie Before


It’s Friday night and the drudges of the work week have left us craving an escape. All we want is to recline in a cushioned chair with popcorn in-hand and immerse our imagination into a cinematic world for just a few hours. Only minutes into the story we have witnessed the young boy have his father’s life tragically taken from him in a moment of cruel injustice. Or maybe we see the young girl who is socially unfit to have any sort of connection to the dashing young gentleman who she finds repulsive and attractive at the same time. Or maybe even we see the sports team who is divided and can’t possibly work together as one unit to perform well in the upcoming season. We know where this is headed. We may not know the details but we’ve seen the classic story of vengeance, the guy get the girl against all odds, and the inspirational story of victory through unity. We know what to expect.


We might think “we know how this movie ends” but that isn’t always the case.

It might be easy to impose this type of expectation when we read about the life of Jesus and the people who interacted with Him in the Gospels. We might think “we know how this movie ends” but that isn’t always the case. Often we see Jesus challenge our intuitions and force us to look closer at the kingdom He spoke of. I want to take a look at a few stages in the life of Jesus, namely His birth, time of ministry, and death. I want to look at some specific passages in the Gospels and see how Jesus presents, as the Bible Project’s Tim Mackie would say, “the upside-down kingdom.” Let’s first start with the birth of Jesus.


The Coming Messiah


It is an understatement to say the coming of the Messiah was greatly anticipated by the Jewish people. This figure was expected to rescue them from their oppressors and restore the nation of Israel to a mighty kingdom once again. If we sit and think, we can begin to imagine what kind of honorable and dignified person this would have to be. This would be no ordinary human. After all, Scripture states that he would descend from the line of David, the mighty and greatly revered former king of Israel. This of course would have to be a lineage of nobility and esteemed families, would it not?


If we look at the lineage that Matthew lays out in his account of the Gospel, we notice that Rahab, the prostitute who aided Joshua and the Israelite people in the city of Jericho, is part of the lineage of Jesus. How could someone who had lived such a life of sexual immorality be responsible for continuing the family line to lead to the coming savior? This has to bewilder those that read this in the book of Matthew for the first time. You would never expect to have a prostitute be purposely associated with the coming of Jesus, the Messiah. If anything, couldn’t that one name have been left out? But it wasn’t. I think it was in fact purposeful. It reflected the heart of Jesus and who He was after. He was after humility.


The Birth Of Jesus

Jesus rattles our cages regularly throughout the Gospels by forcing us to address our own assumptions about other people, our lives, and even Him.

The actual birth of Jesus is yet another example of the counter-intuitive nature of Jesus. He wasn’t born within palace walls or lavish courts. The Jewish leaders and priests were not gathered in a grand assembly to witness the birth of the Messiah. He wasn’t birthed in a typical manner that involved attendants to aid in the delivery. His palace was a stable filled with animals. His grand assembly were some magi and shepherds. His attendants were absent leaving him lying in a manger. The manner by which Jesus was birthed was anything but majestic by our standards. Again, I believe it was purposeful.


Jesus rattles our cages regularly throughout the Gospels by forcing us to address our own assumptions about other people, our lives, and even Him. So what do we do with these challenges to our rationale? What do these selected stories tell us about Jesus and our relationship with him? I hope you will continue along with me in this 4-part series as we look at His ministry, His death, and the takeaway from these particular stories where Jesus challenges our natural way of reasoning.


Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash