This story was inspired by a chapter from God Came Near, one of Max Lucado’s early books.
There were ten chairs in the celestial press room, arranged in a semicircle. The podium was front and center. Angels began to trickle in and fill the chairs. None of them knew why the meeting had been called.
Several minutes later the side door to the press room opened and in walked the Word. The archangel Gabriel was a step behind. The Word’s face was serious and his gait deliberate. Wasting no time, he stepped up to the podium and began to speak as if he had somewhere else to be.
“As many of you know, the Father has been working on a plan for dealing with the rebels on Earth for some time now. Several of you have even had the privilege of delivering bits and pieces of that plan to our advance team. Though you’ve tried, you’ve never been able to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Well, it’s time to reveal to you what the Father has in mind. Listen closely. Effective immediately, I am resigning my position here in heaven.”
The press room was filled with the murmuring of angelic tongues.
The Word continued, “In an effort to turn the rebels back to the Father, I’ll be going to Earth as a human and filling the role of the King they’ve been waiting for.”
As soon as the words were out of his mouth the room exploded with questions. The Word sighed, thankful he had called only ten angels, instead of ten thousand, to the press conference. With the movement of a hand he stilled the outburst and started taking questions, one at a time.
An angel raised its hand, “Lord you said you were going to go down there as a human, how old will you be when you arrive?”
The Word answered, “In order to fully experience the human condition I want to go through an entire life cycle.”
“Does that mean you will be born naturally?” the angel asked.
Whenever three or more are gathered, a critic is always there among them. This is just as true in heaven as on earth. The critic stood up and said, “Now wait a minute. You’re telling us that you’re going to leave heaven and go down there and be born like every other person. I was watching this kid be born the other day and it was a bloody mess. You don’t have to put yourself through that.”
The Word said, “I know. Sit down. Next question.”
Another angel asked, “Lord, will you have parents?”
The Word said, “I’ll need someone to feed me, change my diaper, and keep me from crawling off cliffs, so yes, I’ll have parents.”
As Gabriel passed out copies of a press release summarizing the pertinent details of his soon to be family history, the Word said, “My mother will be a young virgin named Mary, she’s engaged to an artisan named Joseph. He will appear to be my father. Mary has already been briefed about her role in the plan. Joseph will find out soon enough. We expect he’ll resist initially, but we’re confident he’ll eventually come on board.”
The critic spoke up again, “Lord, are you sure about this? Wouldn’t it be better to be born into a more prominent family? This Mary is just a kid and Joseph doesn’t seem to have much going for him. Look at his genealogy. First, there’s Jacob, the deceiver. You remember the stir it caused up here when the Father chose him to carry on the promise. Are you sure you want your name to be forever linked with his? Then there is Perez. His mother was Tamar. She posed as a road-side whore and fooled her father-in-law, Judah, into sleeping with her so that she could get pregnant. Then there’s Rahab. She didn’t pose as a whore, she was one! Could you have picked a more gnarled and twisted family tree?”
The criticism was contagious. Another angel chimed in, “Lord, what about the circumstances of your conception? What will people think when this unmarried “virgin” turns up pregnant?” The original critic popped up from his chair, “I’ll tell you what they’ll think. They’ll think you’re a, a, a…” He lowered his voice to a whisper. “They’ll think you’re a bastard born out of a family of misfits! Are you ready to have people talking about you and your family that way?”
The Word said, “I am. Sit down. Next question.”
Another angel raised his hand, “Lord, where will you be born?”
The critic said, “But there’s no palace in Bethlehem.”
The Word said, “I know. It’s not going to happen in a palace, but rather in a barn on the outskirts of town. That will be the best my parents can do.”
Again the critic stood, “Now Lord, its one thing for you to tell us that you are going to be born in this little do-nothing of a town. But is it entirely necessary to be born in a barn full of animals and their excrement? I guess the next thing you will tell us is that you’re going to sleep on a pile of straw.”
“No. I’ll sleep in the feed trough,” the Word said. “Sit down. Next question.”
Another angel asked, “Lord, are you going to be making any kind of formal announcement on your birthday?”
“Yes. In fact, I was hoping one of you could take care of that for me.”
Surprisingly, it was the critic who volunteered. “I’ll be happy to do it. Maybe if I spin it just right and put on a good enough show, people will overlook the more . . . embarrassing elements of this plan. You would be surprised how much garbage people will accept if you wrap it in an entertaining package. I can see it now. Bright lights, loud music, a huge choir! So, who is my audience going to be? The Sanhedrin? King Herod? Caesar and his cronies?” I can’t wait to see their faces when they find out that their time is up.
The Word said, “Actually, I was thinking of the shepherds just outside of Bethlehem.”
The critic erupted, “I should have known. The nobodies are the first ones you want to tell. That makes just about as much sense as the rest of this plan. And what should I tell them? That the Savior of the world has been born to a virgin, and that he is in a barn in Bethlehem, and that if they can make their way past the straw and the stink they can find you there, nestled in a manger coated with hardened calf slobber?”
“That about sums it up. Sit down. Next question.”
Another hand went up, followed by the question, “Lord, you said you were going down there to turn the rebels around. How will you do it?”
The Word shook his head. “I can’t tell you that. It’s top secret. We want it to be a surprise for everyone, especially the enemy.”
The critic spoke up once again. This time with a tone of resignation in his voice indicating he realized there was nothing he could do to talk his boss out of the plan. “Probably just as well. I can’t imagine that anyone down there is going to be thrilled to call you “King,” especially when you go public with all of this stuff. If you think I’m a hard sell, wait until they hear about it. Do you really think they will let you be their King?”
The Word gave the critic’s question a thoughtful pause before he said, “Most won’t, but some will. All I need is a few.”
Before another question could be asked, he gave them a goodbye nod, turned, walked out of the room, and stepped out of heaven.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14)