And she [Mary] gave birth to her first born son, and wrapped him in [swaddling} cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7
When Caesar Augustus ordered an enrollment of taxpayers in the Roman Empire, he had no idea that he was being used to fulfill prophecies uttered 700 earlier. Isaiah had said, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isa. 7:11). Micah (5:2) prophesied. “But thou, Bethlehem, thought thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel…” Daniel (9:24-26) told when it would happen.
Each prediction was fulfilled with exact literalness.
Our Savior of was cradled in a manger. The immediate reason was the overcrowded inn; the moral reason was for our Lord to begin His life under such lowly circumstances that no son of Adam could ever feel that Jesus was born into better conditions than he. He got beneath the most abject.
It was not hostility that excluded Jesus from the inn. The inn was preoccupied. So it is today with hearts, houses, time, business, pleasure—there is “no room.” We have become so busy creating our own space that we have neither time nor space for Him.
The supreme emotion aroused by Jesus’ birth was joy. He was born to toil, suffer, and die—but angels and men rejoiced.
Although they came from David’s royal lineage, Joseph and Mary were very poor. When they went to the temple for Mary’s rite of purification, their sacrifice was either doves or pigeons, the law’s least expensive allowable offering. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt: 5:3)
Angels proclaimed Messiah’s birth to lowly shepherds guarding sheep destined for temple sacrifice. They hastened to the familiar cave where so many lambs of the flock had been born and found Joseph and Mary with “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
For us, this is, thanks be to God, an old and familiar story. We need to remember, however, that billions of people in our world have never heard it. Perhaps Ruth and I are a little more aware of the earth’s ignorance of Jesus right now because we have missionaries staying in our apartment for a few months while on furlough. We grieve when they tell of the religious bondage that keeps the people from taking needed medications because a witch doctor disapproves.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta spoke of India’s lepers, as “Jesus in His distressing disguise.” He is the one who touches society’s untouchables, changing the eternal destiny of every one who will receive Him, making them into a child of God and putting hope into their hearts and on their faces.
One way to celebrate Jesus’ birthday this year would be to send a gift to a mission or ministry to help reach the forgotten—the last, the least, and the lost. Selah!
Hostages in the hands of an evil captor long for freedom.
At midnight the ransom is paid…
A baby lying in a manger.
Wayne & Ruth