"And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger….. 16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger." –Luke 2:6-16 The story of the announcement by “the angel of the Lord” of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds is of course very familiar to us. But the familiar must be read and considered with care.
We note that when the shepherds responded to the angel’s announcement and went with haste, they found Mary and Joseph and the babe lying in a manger. In other words they found it to be exactly as what the angel had told them.
And what did they find?
What they found is, “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” This “good tidings” is presented to us by three pictures at the scene.
First, we note that Mary took her baby and wrapped Him in “swaddling clothes.” People sometimes wrapped their infant children in strips of cloth in that time to help strengthen the limbs and to provide protection for the child. However, those strips of cloth were the same kind used to wrap dead bodies and prepare them for burial. So, even in His birth, there is a picture of His death. Another reason Jesus was wrapped this way was because those swaddling clothes were to serve as a sign to some seeking shepherds. The providence of God is on display! There are no accidents and coincidences along life’s way!
Second, we all know that the baby was placed in a “manger.” This word refers to a feeding trough where animals would find their food. I do not believe that it was an accident that the “Bread of life” was placed in a feed trough! He came to satisfy the hungry souls of dying men. Therefore, it was appropriate that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, which means “The house of bread” and that He was laid in a manger!
And finally, we are all familiar with the humble surroundings of the place in which Jesus was born. He was not born in a palace but in a manger. Why? If He had been born in a palace, the common man would not have access to him. But because of the humble surroundings in which he was born, the common man, including men in such despised trade as shepherding has access to Him!
May the gift of God’s Son be to you your eternal blessings of good tidings.
In Jesus’ Name and on behalf of the Church, I wish one and all a Blessed Christmas.
Pastor Robert Chew