By Annette McDaniel
Do you ever wonder about the events that had to coincide, in order to produce the Christmas Story? No, not a Hollywood Extravaganza but the Biblical account of Jesus birth as told in the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke.
Have you wondered about Mary’s willingness to undergo what no other woman had ever experienced? Who would believe she was with child and still a virgin? In Biblical times a woman could be stoned for being with child out of wedlock. And what about Joseph? He must have had a kind heart to consider breaking off their engagement quietly rather than having that harsh law enforced. The angels intervened, however, comforting Mary and giving Joseph understanding regarding his role in the coming events.
Then there was the shepherd’s encounter with the Heavenly Hosts. They were afraid! Wouldn’t you be? But, Oh, the awe of discovering that what the people had hoped for all those years, had come to pass in their lifetime. “Glory to God in the Highest and Peace and Good Will on earth!” The worshipping shepherds couldn’t keep quiet about it. And all those who heard their story marveled.
Some time passed before the Wise Men followed the Star to find the Messiah, but it may have been within Jesus’ first or second year. Astronomers have theories on what created the star: aligned planets, a super nova, or a comet. The science doesn’t matter. The Star achieved its purpose, it led directly to Jesus. When God has a plan, it is perfect.
And, I wonder about certain words and phrases in the story.
In Luke 2:7 we read “And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling
clothes and laid him in a manger…” If swaddling was common practice in the Middle East, then why was it emphasized both in verse 7 and again in verse 12? And this will be a sign to you. You will find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes…..”
Swaddling bands were linen or cotton strips 4 to 5 inches wide and 5 to 6 yards long. Often, they were embroidered with symbols of the tribe into which the child was born. It was customary for every Jewish infant to be washed with water and lightly rubbed with fine salt. Then the child was wrapped in linen or cloth strips with his arms at his side and gently bound from his chin down to his ankles. It gave comfort to the newborn and kept the him warm.
In Ezekiel 16 we find that swaddling indicated that the child was properly cared for and was a legitimate heir. Illegitimate babies were neither salted or swaddled. God wanted His people to recognize the legitimacy of the Messiah. This was the newborn King!
We know the Manger indicated His humble birth. How else could the Son of God meet the needs of the common people except to be born as one of them? The wonder of it is that God had the Master Plan ready, because we would need the Ultimate Sacrifice for our sin.
As we enjoy the Christmas season let us give thanks for the Babe in the Manger and, worship the King who came to give us Eternal Life!