And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And 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.(Luke 2:4-9)
Joseph, Mary’s espoused husband, almost divorced his wife to be, (in Jewish marriage, the betrothal is binding and only broken by divorce).
But God revealed to this righteous man , that he too would have special part in the redemption of the world, for the Babe in Mary’s womb did indeed come by the “power of the most high, overshadowing her”. Thus Joseph entered into the reproach of Christ, with his wife to be. They would bear the shame, in what looked like a moral failure, to safely bring Messiah into the world.
The time to deliver the child came, while they were traveling to Bethlehem, the home of Joseph’s forefathers. But there was no room for the couple in the Inn. The little town of Bethlehem would have been swollen with those seeking to be enrolled in Caesar’s census, so the couple had to resort to bearing a child in a stable.
That the Inn couldn’t receive Jesus, but a filthy stable did, became a sign of the human reaction to the Saviour.
An Inn, in our modern times, (something like the Holiday Inns) is a public house for rent, and is usually kept clean, ideally spotless, every sheet properly tucked in, towels neatly folded, and everything in order for the convenience of the guests.The idea is to rent every room possible.
Some people’s lives are similar.Everything seems clean and in order.Their lives are full, there is no vacancy. When the gospel comes to them they see no need, for seemingly they have t together, thus there is no sense of need for Jesus. You could say there is “no room in the Inn” of their hearts, for business is brisk, and everything is in order.
But others lives are like that filthy stable. Who would lay down on the floor of a stable/cave, and have a baby? A place where animals live and feed, and perhaps a place needing the offal of animals to be pitchforked out of it! But there was room in the stable for the Messiah.
Millions of souls, those filthy, ruined, and living almost bestial lives, stained and spotted by sin, would recognize in Jesus the promise of Redemption, New Birth and the hope of eternal Life.Unlike the “Inns” of humanity, these “filthy stables” open their hearts to the Savior and allow him to come in, and purify their lives through the sacrifice He would make for them, of his own blood.
The Sign Of The Swaddling Clothes…
At the beginning of Luke’s gospel, Joseph and Mary are together in an enclosed place, wrapping Jesus tightly in cloth strips, laying him out on a table/manger.
An almost identical scene plays itself almost at the end of Luke’s gospel. True its a different Joseph in the second instance, but the scene repeats, Joseph and Mary are in a tomb, Jesus is laid out on a table, and this time Joseph wraps Jesus’ body in strips of cloth for burial. And Mary is there.
And he(Joseph) took it (The Body of Jesus)down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.(Luke 23:53-56)
Everything in scripture is meaningful, all is the Word of God. What is it that God is saying in this double binding of Jesus?
I believe it is a statement that Jesus, who is the eternal God, allowed himself for thirty-three years to be bound by men, that He whose power is limitless, could save us from our sin. This is real Power, power restrained voluntarily, even hidden, that we might be saved.
God entered into limitation, “he emptied himself” as Paul said in Phillipians 2. The ancient psalmist cried out “Bind the sacrifice with cords to the altar”! Sampson once put forth his hands to his brethren, the men of Judah, and allowed them to bind him, and lead him as a captive, to the Philistines where he won one of his greatest victories.
Power restrained, hidden glory, power revealed in apparent weakness, this is the gospel A sign was given to the Shepherds by the Heavenly hosts, but not one that anyone would associate with raw power or heavenly mystery,
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.(Luke 2;10-14)
Our God bound himself, he allowed himself to be bound by men, that men might be free of sin! We can only join those who have given us our beloved Christmas Carols, in singing-
“Highest, most holy,
Light of light eternal,
Born of a virgin,
A mortal he comes;
Son of the Father
Now in flesh appearing!
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Christ the Lord!
Merry Christmas everybody!