“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 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 guest room available for them.” (Luke 2: 4 – 7)
What do we know about the place where Mary gave birth to Jesus? Not a lot!
· It was in Bethlehem, about 10km south of Jerusalem
· Was it a stable, a cave, a barn? We don’t know, but it was certainly a place where the animals were kept for the night
The child was placed in a manger – a feeding trough for domestic animals.
It goes without saying that there was no danger here – the animals would not see Jesus as a threat or as another meal. But it is interesting to note that 33 years later, at the final supper, he would speak of his body being eaten – his followers eating bread as a symbol of his body being put to death and drinking wine or juice as a symbol of his blood being shed.
Mary wrapped the newborn baby in strips of cloth to keep him warm. 33 years later the man, Jesus would take off his outer garment, freeing himself from its incumbrance, in order to take water and a basin and wash his disciples’ feet – something a Rabbi/teacher would never do. Later, soldiers would cast lots for his clothes as he hung on the cross.
As a baby, Jesus lay in the wooden frame of a manger. As a man, he hung on the wooden frame of a cross.
The Son of God, God in human form, lay vulnerable and alive to the distant celebration of angels singing. The same Son of God lay vulnerable in the face of death, as the nails were driven into wooden beams, to the shouts of “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
The baby who was born became the man who died.
The angel had said, he will save people from their sins – he will set us free from that part of us that wants to disobey God
When Jesus hung on the cross, he took a punishment for sin and disobedience that he did not deserve, but we do deserve.
Jesus’ journey took him from the banquets of Heaven to a baby in a feeding trough to a final supper with his disciples and then death on a cross.
But, just as any newborn is a miracle, the best miracle was to come – Jesus rose from death. He came back to life and returned to the banquets of Heaven.
The greatest story ever told.