“Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 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.”
Luke 2:4-7 NKJV
On the short end of life, there is a tendancy to look at all one has done and consider the purpose of it all. When I look back, I see so many short-ended paths, where I started to do something that I thought was really important, only to then discarded, in favor of some other “important” pursuit or scheme.
When I consider my life today, I see little connection to the past or other paths I could have taken. It isn’t until I began following Jesus that I see any truly important purpose, or over arching theme.
When I look at the life of Jesus I am overwhelmed by the purpose that was set forth for Him from before the beginning. Jesus was born to die, to be a sacrificial lamb, born to pay for the sins of the world. The Christmas story is filled with signs pointing to what He was to do some thirty three years later.
As I prepare my heart for this coming holiday, I focus on the spiritual implications of this time that we have artificailly designated for the birth of my Savior.
As I glanced at the passage in Luke this morning during my quiet time with the Lord, I was reminded of something I saw in a video the day before. The video referred to a place called Midgal Eder, the Tower of the Flock, an area recently discovered that was believed to be the place where the lambs used for the Passover sacrifice, were once kept. I read this morning that 250,000 sheep were needed for all the households on typical Passover.
These sheep were kept by special shepherds, know as levitical shepherds. I think back to another passage in Luke where it talks about the angelic host who appeared to them to announce the birth of the New Born King. They were the men who cared for the lambs used for passover feast.
The First Noel, the Angels did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep
The were certain poor shepherds, set apart to be the first messengers of the Gospel. They were the ones taking care of the newborn lambs.
When these sacrificial lambs were newly born, they were considered holy, and special, and needed to be protected. They were tightly wrapped, or swaddled, and laid in a manger. The manger was a stone, hewn out, and not the wooden things we usually think of at Christmas. These shepherds risked everything to protect the herd, for they were extremely important.
The swaddling clothes were only used in that location. I suspect with Joseph and Mary arrived at the stable, or more likely cave, where they stayed, they found one of those hewn mangers with some used swaddling clothes in it. When the shepherds arrived, the recognized the significance of what they saw, and what the angels had told them.
“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 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 2:8-12 NKJV
Jesus came into the world for the purpose to reveal to humanity the true nature of God, and pay the sins of His creation.
Brothers and sisters, let us consider the purpose that God has brought us into His Kingdom. We are not saved to sit on our pews, and practice “lifestyle evangelism”, but to be active in telling people about Jesus. We live as if we too are to be a sacrifice, as we die to self, that the power of the Gospel be magnified.
Christmas is a call to action, a time when we go out and tell of the God/Man who came as a God/Baby, born to die from the foundation of the world, that we may live in eternity with Him. From the beginning, He was destined for the cross, to be that sacrificial lamb. Let us not be lost in the bright lights, but share the bright light of salvation in Jesus Christ!