We’re continuing through the Gospel of Luke. In my last post, we saw how God orchestrated everything so that Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem. They were in the right place, at the right time, so that the Messiah would be born just as the Word of God had prophesied.
But, as we’ll see, there was more to this birth that the Lord wanted to show us.
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
As I read this, it strikes me that this is such a simple statement. We’ve probably heard this many times over the years. It’s the normal quote in every Christmas message.
First, let’s dispel a few myths. The problem wasn’t that all the hotels were booked up in Bethlehem. At that point in history, there were no hotels or inns as we would define them.
They were more like AirBnB’s. There were normal people who had guest rooms available for travelers who needed a temporary place to stay. When Mary and Joseph arrived, the only thing left was a place with the livestock.
Once the child was born, they needed to keep Him warm. The only thing they had was strips of cloth – rags – that they had to delicately tie around the baby. They were doing the best they could with what they had.
But, what no one at that time realized, this was the day everything changed. Christ was born. God made flesh.
And still today, many people miss the significance of the events that occurred that day. Sometimes the smallest detail can make a world of difference.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
At night in Bethlehem, everyone was asleep in their beds. Well, not everyone. There was a group of people who couldn’t sleep. They had a job to accomplish. They were shepherds watching over a flock of sheep.
Suddenly the unexpected occurred. They had a supernatural encounter. An angel showed up with an important message for them. The Christ was born.
But more than that – there was a sign. That means there was a special thing they were to look for to prove they were in the right place. A baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.
This sign to the shepherds was more than just proof for them. It was a sign of things to come. This baby was placed in a manger – not a crib or cradle. A manger is a fancy way of saying a feeding trough for livestock. It’s a place for animal food, not babies.
Yet this was the “Bread of Heaven” who came down to give us life. So for Christ, this was an appropriate resting place for Him. The Bread of Life lying in a feeding trough.
The strips of cloth were another sign. It wasn’t the normal kind of baby clothes of that day. Strips of cloth were used to clothe the dead, not the living. This baby was dressed as a corpse, an infant “mummy”. Again – it was a sign of things to come.
Here was the Lamb of God. He has come to take our place on the cross. Even as a baby, His calling was revealed. Death, burial, resurrection and ascension – all for our sake.
Especially in this season, amid all the activities and excitement you may find around you, don’t lose sight of the signs. This child we celebrate is no longer a baby. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is our Life and Light. This season is all about Him.
Question: How do you keep the truth of Christ at the center of Christmas?
© 2021 Nick Zaccardi