Holy Things in Filthy Places

By Greg Quinn

December 22nd, 2016


I’m constantly amazed at the Christmas Story.  The “real” Christmas Story.  Not the movie about Ralphie and his Red Rider BB gun (although I love the movie and watch it every year).  Not the Santa Claus story.  Not "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer".  Not "Frosty the Snowman".  Not "The Santa Clause" with Tim Allen.  Not "Elf".  Nothing made by Hollywood or man.  The REAL Christmas story.  A defining moment in mankind when a holy God decided to redeem his sinful creation from eternal death into an eternal and abundant life.


1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 

This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. 

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 

to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 

So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 

And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 

And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 

10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 

11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 

12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 

16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 

17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 

18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 

19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.


There is so much to talk about in the Christmas story.  Just this passage from Luke 2 above has so many relevant truths.  But today, we will focus on just a few.

How could a holy God, the Creator of the universe, love us, a wretched and sinful creation, so much that he would leave Heaven, leave His throne as part of the Godhead, and come to earth to be born as a human, and live among the dirty, sinful, wretched creation of mankind?

How could Jesus, the Son of God, one-third of the Godhead trinity (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit), leave the splendors of Heaven and His place by his Father to choose life as a human in an impure and disgusting world?

How could Jesus degrade himself to this level of existence, especially knowing that his time on earth as a human would be a meager 33 years and his earthly end would be a cruel crucifixion on a Roman cross to pay for sins he didn’t do for a creation that was unworthy?

We can hardly gather this. 

This would be likened to the Queen of England choosing to leave her palace and reside in the pig pen among the mud and slime and excrement and stench, and beyond that, choose to be killed to save the life of a pig.  And that doesn’t even form a parallel.

So, why did Jesus choose to leave Heaven to save us?

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He sent his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

We cannot understand this level of love.  How the only pure one, God himself, chose a fleshly vessel from which to live in a filthy world in order to give his life to save us from our sins?

Holy things in filthy places.

This is the Christmas Story.

Instead of being born in a palace as to be expected of a King, he was born in a feed trough. Instead of being born into a royal family, Jesus was born into a poor family.  Instead of being wrapped with fine linen, he was kept warm by dirty rags lying in an animal stable.  The King of the World and Son of God came to earth in an environment that was more fitting for animals than for humans.

Holy things in filthy places.

Imagine Joseph and Mary, Mary carrying her first child, and after traveling a long way walking and riding a donkey, in the middle of the night when she was about to birth her child, not being able to find a room or a bed, Mary was forced to birth the holy Son of the Most High God in a filthy stable, in a filthy animal feed trough, wrapped in filthy rags.

Holy things in filthy places.

Now let’s fast forward to your life, and to mine.  I may not know you, and you may not know me, but we know this about each other.  You and I are sinners.  We have done wrong.  Even the best of us have lied or have had impure thoughts or have done something wrong.  All of us.  The Bible says, “There is none righteous, no not one”.  So all of us have committed wrongdoing, we have sinned.  God in heaven is Holy, and cannot accept sin.  Jesus came to earth Holy to become the pure sacrifice that was pleasing to God to reconcile man to God.  Jesus became sin where we could become righteous.

When we accept Jesus as our savior, when we understand that we cannot be reconciled to a Holy God on our own, that we are impure, we are sinful, we are “filthy” in God’s eyes, then the only way we can be made right is through the sacrifice of one that is Holy, and that only one that could do that is God himself, through his son Jesus.  When we accept what Jesus did for us, when we believe on who He is, when we invite him into our life and accept him as our redeemer and our Lord, then the Bible tells us that we are saved.  We are redeemed.  We have been bought with a price.  We, one who is a sinner and filthy, is made clean through the blood of Jesus.  He paid the price in our place.

The moment we accept Jesus, then the Holy Spirit, the other one-third of the Godhead, comes to live inside of us.  God in us.  Holy thing in a filthy place.

Holy things in filthy places.

The birth of Jesus is the most fascinating event in human history.  God came to earth to redeem mankind of our sins.  Jesus being born in a filthy place symbolizes the filthy place that the Holy Spirit entered when He chose to live inside of us as our God, living within us.  But, just as Jesus’ life and death for our sin cleansed the world, the Holy Spirit in us cleanses us, works daily with us (if we let Him) to help us live better, cleaner lives, and do our best to live a life pleasing to God through the leading of the Holy Spirit.

So when you hear the REAL Christmas Story this year, amongst the presents and the lights and the great smells and the smiles, think of that first Christmas.  The day the most Holy One of creation entered our world, in a filthy place, to bring us back to God.

May God richly bless you and your family.  And Merry Christmas.

Greg Quinn