Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
“And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12)
The words told by the angels to the shepherds announcing the birth of our Savior remind us that from the beginning His earthly life was marked by death. The dark shadow of Golgotha can be seen over the quiet streets of Bethlehem on that first Christmas night. Consider these words from Sinclair Ferguson’s wonderful Christmas devotional book, Child in the Manger: The True Meaning of Christmas (pp.154-55):
“The Lord was wrapped in swaddling bands. The One Who can bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion lies now in a manger. His little body, only a few pounds in weight, is firmly bound with cloths because it was feared that otherwise his limbs would be in danger of malformation. The Creator becomes subject to the cultural practices of the first century. The One Who populated the forests with trees lies within the bark of one. The One Who has always been face to face with His Father now stares into the face of His teenage mother. The One Whom the heavens cannot contain is contained within a stable. He Who cradles the universe is Himself cradled in an animal’s feeding trough. Yes, this is the kind of Savior Who is suited to the needs of shepherds! Indeed, if He can save shepherds no one is beyond His ability to save. He has stooped to the lowest of the low in order to raise them up to God in the highest. Possibly Luke’s first readers, living as they did in a culture where observation and a good memory were important, might have remembered the language he used here as they came towards the end of His Gospel. He echoes it when he tells us that once again the Savior is to be found wrapped in linen bands and lying on borrowed property. The One Who began His life wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in the animal’s manger ends it laid in a rich man’s rock-hewn tomb, now wrapped in linen bands for a shroud. The shadow of His death is present already in the description of the details of His birth.”
Reflect upon these very brief thoughts as we prepare to gather on this first Sunday of December at the Lord’s Table to worship and remember this One born to die for the sins of His people, and to receive from Him all the grace He so freely gives as we feed upon Him spiritually by faith. Examine yourself, as the Scriptures require, and prepare yourself to come and feast at the Table of our Risen King and Savior, Jesus Christ!
Rejoicing in Emmanuel, God with us,
January 3, 2018