“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:10-12).
The angel who heralded the birth of Jesus, told the shepherds that they would find this newborn babe, who is Christ the Lord, wrapped in swaddling cloths and laying in cow’s feed trough.
Swaddling babies was the common practice when Jesus was born. A baby was wrapped tightly in strips of cloth that would keep their arms and their legs from flailing about, while also giving them a sense of security like they felt in the confines of their mother’s womb.
I remember a time, when I was eight years old, that I saw, for the first time, an American Indian infant on a cradle board. I was spellbound as I looked at that baby, swaddled and then wrapped in a canvas covering that was laced from head to toe. The cradle board was equipped with shoulder straps whereby the mother could wear it like a backpack. For in days gone by, this allowed the mother to keep on with her daily chores without worrying that her baby would crawl away.
During this Christmas season I have come to see the swaddling cloths in which the baby Jesus was wrapped as a metaphor of His entire earthly existence. How so you might ask.
Philippians 2:5-7 says, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”
In coming to this earth, God the Son, second person of the Trinity, divested Himself of all His divine prerogatives and privileges. He then put on a suit of flesh and bone, as He entered this world in the person of a newborn baby boy. In that very act, the Creator of the universe, voluntarily limited Himself to the confines of time and space. The very one who had filled the cosmos with His presence became confined (swaddled, if you would) in the tiny body of a newborn infant. And, for the next 33 years He would know that confinement until He once again took His rightful place in heaven following His resurrection from the dead.
These voluntary limitations also subjected the Son of God to the possibility of death, the very reason for which this baby, Emmanuel, had been born. And die, He did, but when He offered up His sinless life as an offering for the sins of the world, the grave could not hold Him.
I pray that God would open our eyes and let see as we have never seen before, the mystery and the wonder of His indescribable gift to mankind for their salvation. Might we know and be convinced to the core of our being that Bethlehem’s baby is indeed Emmanuel, God with us.