The picture to your left is the Whiskey A Go Go on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. This club is where bands such as The Doors, Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention and later bands like Van Halen and Mötley Crüe got their start. I once had a dream of playing guitar in a rock band at the Whiskey A Go Go club. You see, I was always enamored with becoming a rock star… to have all the girls, loads of money, big parties and limousines, glamour and fame, and enough entourage to keep the cameras flashing on a regular basis.
While it’s a pretty self-centered way of thinking, it is also why I am so attracted to the story of Jesus birth in Matthew 1:18-25. This isn’t the exact story that was taught to me in Sunday School as a child. That’s because it isn’t just a story of a young virgin mother giving birth to the baby Jesus, it’s a story that involves an unmarried woman becoming who’s pregnant. Even though we have the luxury of Matthew’s editorial comments to make sure we understand the special circumstances of her pregnancy, Mary appears as a sexually unchaste woman to the others around her – including Joseph. This is why the words “disgrace” and “divorce” (v. 19) are a part of this story.
There’s a part of me that doesn’t understand this. I mean, if I were God and choosing to make physical entrance into the world, I would role out the biggest red carpet there is and step on to it from the most lavish car there is, flanked by the largest motorcade ever assembled. I would do it like a rock star, with all the glitz that money could buy. But that’s not God! Instead of a manufactured glory, God chooses the humble origins of a baby born among the appearance of scandal and shame. The angel tells Joseph, “…you are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins” (v. 21).
So in effort to save us from our sins, God becomes part of a story that is saturated in appearance with sin (don’t forget the genealogy of Jesus either). That’s a pretty humble way of God to begin unveiling his grace.
Perhaps this is God’s way of saying there isn’t any sin so shameful and so scandalous that it goes beyond the reach of his grace!