Take a Closer Look!
The account of the Nativity as recorded by the apostle Luke is so familiar many Christians can recite it from memory.
“And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Lk. 2:7).
With centuries of depictions from which to draw, our concepts of the site where God entered time and space are largely based on tradition.
The rustic though charming little stable or cave—smelling of fresh straw, secluded from the noise and commotion of Bethlehem bulging at the seams with travelers—is how we typically envision the scene.
The true environment may have been quite different. Take a closer look at a mind-boggling detail.
According to Alfred Edersheim, noted Messianic scholar, the only shelter that may have been available to Mary and Joseph was beneath the watchtower at the edge of the Shepherds’ Fields on the outskirts of Bethlehem. (1) The watchtower served as a shelter for sacrificial lambs during lambing season (Micah 4:8).
If the baby in the manger had been just another mortal, there would be little of significance to remember about the birth year after year. Babies born under adverse circumstances are not uncommon. The number entering the world via the sterile environment of a hospital is relatively small even today, much less 2,000 years ago.
Had the infant in the manger been nothing more than the offspring of poverty-stricken parents, there would be no reason to take particular notice. Babies have no say in the socio-economic status of their parents. Babies have no ability to choose the place of their birth, how they are clothed or where they sleep. There is nothing remarkable about a baby accepting circumstances that he or she is incapable of changing.
The apostle John’s remarkable account begins with a simple statement.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14).
Only when we recognize the identity of the newborn—as God incarnate in the manger of the watchtower—does the significance of the humble scene burst upon us. The fact that this baby was the Word in the flesh who chose the time, place and even circumstances of His birth is an awesome reason to take a closer look at Christmas!
1) Alfred Edersheim. The Life and Times of Jesus, the Messiah, (2004: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.) 131.
1) No Room. (All forms of image used for illustrative purposes) (Image credit: Pixabay/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios)
Copyright © Charles E. McCracken 2016, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author via Contact Form under ABOUT. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.