Whilst watching a Nativity film which showed the difficulty experienced by Joseph and Mary in finding accommodation for the night, it caused me to question why, with all the resources at God’s disposal, there just wasn’t one small room anywhere? God had gone before in so many other ways, preparing the two young people to accept their role in all of this, notifying the local shepherds and bringing influential leaders from far away to witness this momentous historic occasion. And yet no room!
But a few days after watching that film, I heard something, which for me, threw new light on the whole scenario of the birth of Jesus. It’s understood that the fields around Bethlehem were used to rear the special flocks of sheep from which the first born of each would be chosen to be taken for sacrifices in the Temple in Jerusalem. Often, being given special shelter and being wrapped in strips of cloth (swaddling), these lambs were tended with great care and attention and protected from potential harm and disease, as they had to be ‘without defect’ for sacrifice (Exodus 12:5).
The Bible tells us that Jesus, as a baby, was wrapped in similar cloths and laid in a manger (Luke 2:7). So, it wasn’t a mistake or an oversight on God’s part to allow His son to be born in such an environment among sheep and other animals, as some think that these animals sheltering in the courtyard of an inn and feeding out of mangers of hay were destined for sacrifice at the temple.
The shepherds understood something of the significance of what they saw. They’d been told by the angels that the baby wrapped in cloths was a sign to them of the validity of the message that a Saviour had been born. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, we can see that the birth of Jesus in these circumstances was another way in which God confirmed to the world who Jesus was, and that, as John the Baptist later declared, He is ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world’ (John 1:29).
Nothing that God does or says is ever insignificant, and He never makes a mistake. Here, in a simple picture, God is making the profound statement that His son, Jesus, was born without sin. He was the ‘Lamb of God’ who was to be sacrificed on Calvary, so we might be saved through believing in Him.
‘For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God’ (1 Peter 1:18-19).
Prayer: Thank You, dear God, for sending Your son as the Lamb of God to be a sacrifice for each one of us. Please help us to understand more fully what that means and to enter more fully into what You’ve made available to all those who trust in You. Amen.
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