A few nights ago I shared on of my favorite songs, Mary Did You Know, and asked you to listen to it and really think about what it’s saying. Did Mary really know that that sweet, precious baby was God come to earth! Did she get it, realize what was to come?
Did she know that that cooing, squirming innocent one was the Innocent one who could take our sins, her sins? That He would one day be mocked, tortured, beaten then mercilessly hung from the cross, crucified, to pay a debt He didn’t owe. As she heard his first whimpers and cries did she know that one day He would cry out to God His father to forgive those who nailed Him to that tree at Calgary, by the way He didn’t just mean the Romans or the Jews, He meant me and you too. Or did she look at the perfect gift from God and just feel the love all mama’s feel for their perfect little ones? Did she hold Him close, breathe that sweet pure baby smell, nurse her child, rocking him gently as she pondered all that being the mom to the Son of God meant, all that her child, her sleeping bundle of joy would do in His 33 years?
God has really laid this on my heart this Christmas, that Mary was just a young mom, with an awesome responsibility – to birth and raise God’s son! Maybe it’s because this year my own son gave His life to the Lord and is quickly moving from a child to a preteen and I am remembering my sweet baby bird, who’s now as tall as me! But Luke 2:19 speaks to me, it tickles the back of my mind and my heart, almost makes me weep for sweet Mary. That young mother so wonderfully happy, beautifully exhausted, lovingly terrified, who has just given birth to God’s own son in a lowly stable because she and her espoused husband Joseph were poor and in a town not even their own, at the end of a long and wearisome journey to be taxed and counted in Bethlehem. They arrive with Mary ready to deliver the Mighty God upon whose shoulders the government shall one day rest and they can’t even find a proper bed for her to labor in. No one would open their doors or their hearts to this poor young family, for the coming king! So they did what they had too, I imagine her time was drawing nigh and Joseph was desperate to find a warm, dry place to give his beloved a place to give birth and somewhere the tender new babe would be safe and secure. All he could find was a stable, it would have to do. Her son whom God had entrusted to her out of all the women on earth and she gave birth to him with the cattle. Then she wrapped the perfect, precious babe in swaddling clothes, that’s a nice way of saying rags ya know. That’s right the King of Kings, Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, Savior of the world was born in a barn, wrapped in rags and slept in a manger.
Not exactly the entrance into this world you would think of for the most memorable, amazing, revolutionary, radical person to ever live. Yet, it’s perfect, after all Jesus was a radical teaching things like the first would be last and the last first. He was a revolutionary talking of a kingdom no eye has seen where He is going soon to prepare a place for us. A stable, rags and a manger somehow it was just right. God’s funny that way, he works wonders in the humblest ways. I mean when I really think of it, if they had been in an inn it sure would have been harder for the shepherd’s to reach them, all tucked away in a crowded building with people everywhere. People and noise and chaos – not exactly a peaceful place to deliver a child. On the contrary the stale was quiet, the animals all gathered round, curious yet gentle as the new family shares it’s first moments together. Gentle moos, baas, and brays were the accompaniment to Mary and Joseph’s first tender, loving lullabies that our new born Savior heard. Sweet smelling hay was a warm snug bed once the wee one had fed and was sleeping soundly, wrapped in those rags. Rags that were worn soft with age and use but clean, easy to wrap around the tiny arms and legs, against new baby soft skin, and warm. That night those rags were fit for a King. The scene was perfectly set for the new family to catch their breathes, maybe a little rest, and just bask in those first precious moments with their son, God’s Son.
Moments that were short, fleeting because even as they are tasting love, trust and hope outside town God’s own heavenly host is spreading the good news to some visitors to come welcome His boy to the world.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 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 Savior, 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. (Luke 2:8-12)
See the perfect place, God always has a plan.
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 2:13-14)
Can you just picture the sight, a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, proclaiming His glory, announcing His Son.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. (Luke 2:15-16)
They came with haste, quickly, sparing no time, rushing, excitedly. They had just been visited by God’s own angels and told that they need to go meet His own Son, I bet they came on the run alright.
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. (Luke 2:17-18)
Those simple shepherds were the first preachers, they were the first to share the good news, the Son of God, Prince of Peace, Savior of the world. Whom they just saw in lying wrapped in rags. The King of Kings, wrapped in rags, come to this sin cursed earth to be crucified on a tree for the sins of the world, laid to rest in a tomb in a garden to rise up resurrected on the third day offering the world eternal life through faith in Him. The same God that rose Him from the grave created us, loves us, wants to be in fellowship with us. But ever since that fateful day in the garden of Eden when Adam sinned and brought death into the world, we’ve been separated from God, our sin, rebellion, keeping us apart from our Creator, our Father. It broke His heart that there was a veil keeping us from drawing near one to the other in closeness, fellowship, relationship. So He fixed things, made them new, right.
God the Father sent his Son so you don’t have to die. You too can have the gift, the grace, the mercy, the hope, the joy, the peace of eternal life. Simply believe. Believe in that sweet baby. Born in the lowly stable, born in poverty, not even a proper bed. But born with a mighty purpose, a mission to fulfill. Born with angels from heaven proclaiming the good news, literally shouting with praise and glory! Born to obey his Father even unto death, conquering death, defeating death – giving life! Offering every soul on earth mercy, grace, rebirth through repentance of sin and faith in Christ. Be born again this Christmas in that manager beside the King!