A paradox is an apparent contradiction which conceals a profound truth–and the Bible is filled with paradoxes: We triumph by first surrendering to God. We find freedom in becoming Christ’s bondservants. We are made great by becoming little. We become wise by becoming fools for Christ’s sake. We can only truly live if we die to self.
Yet the greatest paradox in the entire Bible is found in the birth of Jesus Christ. During the time of Jesus’ birth, Caesar Augustus was the greatest ruler of the world. Yet even with all of his earthly authority and riches, Caesar was just a man. When God Himself came to earth, He was not the leader of the largest empire. He was born as a poor and obscure child in Bethlehem. The pagan man, Caesar, was at the height of power; the God-infant, Jesus, was in the depths of helplessness. Caesar was the wealthiest man on earth; Jesus was one of the poorest. Caesar slept in a Roman palace on a golden bed covered with fine linens; Jesus slept in a manger, bundled in swaddling clothes.
We can learn from the paradoxes of Christmas: We should not judge things by appearance, because God hid His greatest gift in a humble package.