Terry R. Baughman
“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:11–12).
Travel worn and weary Mary and Joseph made it to Bethlehem, the city of David, their forefather. While they were glad of their association with this family and the tribal identity of Judah, at the present it was difficult to be thankful. Due to the decree of Caesar Augustus they were forced to make the journey from the Galilee to their home land to register for the census. Pregnancy was not an excuse for exemption. So the unlikely couple joined other travelers on the ancient trails and roads to Bethlehem.
The contrasts could not be more stark. In obscurity, the unknown couple made a journey of destiny. Though they had a word from an angel, an unexpected pregnancy and the scandal of carrying a child before marriage caused them to avoid too much engagement with others along the journey. Yet, there were no travelers who attracted more attention from the heavenly sphere than these unlikely youths. Prophets of ages and angelic observers waited in wrapt attention for the revealing of the Son of God.
Important leaders, political pundits, and studious scholars gathered in Jerusalem. It was the capital city and anything important would surely happen there. While the religious elite complimented one another on their spiritual pursuits and pedigree, God slipped in the side door and found residence among the poor and powerless. Paul said He, “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7).
Even the Magi from the East assumed that a child who was the fulfillment of so many prophecies would surely come to be born in Jerusalem, and they inquired of the scholars when there was no knowledge of His birth. Ironically, the scholars could look to the Scripture and point the seekers to Bethlehem, but they had no initiative to go and see Him for themselves. The minor prophet and the small town revealed the magnificent truth and the blessed location for Messiah’s arrival. Micah predicted, “Bethlehem … though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel” (Micah 5:2),
The humble couple could not secure lodging in the town, even with the obvious signs of pending childbearing on Mary. They were not important enough for their situation to gain attention and no one offered to make room for them to secure comfortable accommodations. Seeking the shelter of a stable, probably no more than a dark cave where farm animals were tethered, they settled in for the night. However, even without comfort or convenience, labor pains brought the birth of a child, a son, but not just any son; He was the Son of God. Paul later proclaimed that He was, “Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness” (Romans 1:3–4).
Unnoticed and ignored by the population of the town, God arranged a welcoming committee among the shepherds. The hosts of angels proclaimed His arrival, “There is born to you this day … a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. … You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:11–12). Swaddled in strips of cloth and nestled in the fodder of a stable Jesus was placed in a manger as shepherds came to welcome the Lord of Glory. The Word has been revealed. God became one of us, and He was God with us, made to be “a little lower than the angels” and yet He was, “Crowned … with glory and honor” (Hebrews 2:7). The great Creator became our Savior!
“The mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed” (Colossians 1:26). The mystery in the manger has been made known … He is Majesty in the manger. Christmas is revealed in Jesus Christ!
“Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16).