Miracle on 34th Street is a classic Christmas film that families have cherished since its premiere in 1947. “Kris Kringle,” a kind-hearted elderly man, is hired to play Santa Claus by the local Macy’s, and he gradually persuades New Yorkers that he is the real Santa. At first, Little Susie is reluctant to believe in Santa because her mother raised her not to. “You’re just a nice old man with whiskers, like my mother said. And I shouldn’t have believed you,” Susie contends, believing the department store Santa to be a fraud. But after Kris Kringle proves himself to be the embodiment of Santa Claus, even her mother eventually admits, “I was wrong when I told you that, Susie. Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.” Ordinary New Yorkers learned that there is nothing wrong with believing in extraordinary things—they could even be right in front of your eyes.
Mary and Joseph eventually understood this, too. Everything appeared normal as they traveled to Bethlehem to pay taxes for the census (cf. Luke 2:1-3). It was an ordinary trip to an ordinary place to conduct ordinary business. However, God was accomplishing something extraordinary right before their eyes. By His providence, the Lord used an ordinary decree to bring them to Bethlehem, the prophesied birthplace of the Messiah.
The prophet Micah foretold that the Christ would be born there: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days (Micah 5:2). Micah’s prophecy was in jeopardy, however, because Mary was on the verge of childbirth in Nazareth—not Bethlehem (Luke 2:4). Therefore, in order to fulfill this critical prophecy, God stirred in Caesar’s heart to issue a census requiring Jews to return to their homeland to pay taxes—and Joseph’s hometown just so happened to be Bethlehem. In accordance with biblical prophecy, Mary’s water broke when they arrived at Bethlehem’s gates (cf. Luke 2:7).
God has a way of using ordinary people and events for extraordinary purposes. He often works miracles in the mundane. He will use whatever it takes to fulfill His perfect plan—even things that are completely normal. Do not underestimate what He may do in the day-to-day happenings that appear humdrum. As John Piper said, “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.” Have faith in His providence—even if common sense tells you not to.
Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky.
Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).