She wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn
You didn’t choose to be born and neither did I. Only Jesus has ever chosen to be born. But if such powers were at our disposal, would we have decided upon the path that Jesus took?
Surely not. Surely we would have opted for powerful parents, fabulous wealth, plush surroundings, an easy life.
And it’s all the more justifiable in Jesus’ case. After all, He arrives as King. He is taking the throne of His father David (Luke 1:32). Doesn’t that demand a certain level of pomp and ceremony? Or at least dignity? Or publicity?
But no, Jesus chose penniless teenagers in an oppressed backwater under the thumb of mighty Rome. He chose to be born in the land of the shadow of death (Isaiah 9:2, 6). He entered our world at its darkest depths. And so His Kingly nature is revealed, not in His high standing but in His lowly stooping.
When the time came, He was not delivered in comfort or safety. In a day when many women died in childbirth:
“[Mary] 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.” (Luke 2:7)
What John said theologically, Bethlehem’s innkeepers said practically:
“He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” (John 1:11)
It’s horribly ironic. Bethlehem means “House of Bread.” Yet when the true Bread of life appears, no-one wants Him.
Nonetheless, Mary puts Him in a feeding trough (i.e. a manger). There He lies as this world’s true Food. And thus,
“Where meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in.”
More on those ‘meek souls’ tomorrow. But for now, marvel at the stooping Saviour. To see the nature of God, we naturally look to the heavens. Christmas tells us to look down into the manger. There is true deity.
As Luther has said:
“Reason and will would ascend and seek above, but if you would have joy, bend yourself down to this place. There you will find that boy given for you who is your Creator lying in a manger. I will stay with that boy as He sucks, is washed, and dies . . . There is no joy but in this boy. Take Him away and you face the Majesty which terrifies . . . I know of no God but this one in the manger.”
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