I’ve heard the story all my life. A pregnant lady & her man can’t find a place to have their baby, so the lady gives birth in a stable. The baby is wrapped in swaddling clothes, laying in a manger & is surrounded by barn animals.
Cliche’ doesn’t even begin to cover it.
This December, God has shown Himself to me in new ways, leaving me in awe of this heard-too-often-to-appreciate-it story.
I don’t know that I’ll ever fully grasp how much He loves each of us, but I understand a bit more now than I ever have.
Jesus wrapping himself in baby human flesh, sown together with skin cells, blood veins & heartbeats, was the beginning of the most nonfluctuating love story ever to exist. (Okay, so I’m not so fond of the word nonfluctuating there, but non-rollercoasteresque seemed silly, although it’s exactly what I meant…)
Think about it… God, the Creator and Ruler of everything to ever exist, sent His Son, who is apart of Himself, to earth as a helpless baby to be born in a really fancy, clean hospital… You know, the kind with equipment powered by electricity, with medicine that can numb pain & a Chick-fil-A on the 3rd floor.
Insert tire screech here. Nope, He wasn’t born in a fancy, clean hospital like a lot of babies are born in today. Mama Mary didn’t have an epidural & baby Jesus didn’t have a snot-sucker stuck up his baby nose to clean out his tiny baby nostrils.
Instead, he was wrapped in swaddling clothes & put in a manger. When you Google what a manger is, this is what comes up: a long open box or trough for horses or cattle to eat from. He wasn’t placed in one of those rolling carts that has the little information card that tells you the baby’s name, birth-date, birth-time, birth-weight, birth-length, etc. Nope, none of that. He was placed in a contraption that animals, SLOBBERING ANIMALS, eat out of.
If the Son of God making a less-than-grand entrance into the world like that isn’t enough to convince us that God loves us beyond measure, He goes so far as to be brutally beaten with a cat-of-nine-tails (one of the most horrific things to ever exist… it is a whip laced with things like bone, hooks, glass, etc. that will dig through the victim’s skin as the whip is being pulled back to give another lashing), wear a crown of thorns that is digging into his head, carry the cross He will be crucified on &, lastly, have nails thrust through His wrists & feet, so as to nail Him to a cross. And for what? Why?
He had done nothing wrong to deserve punishment. He lived a sinless life. Even Pilate, the governor at the time, said as much & washed his hands of the matter, allowing the people to do what they wanted with Him. So for what? So why?
Prophets had prophesied about it many years before… the spotless, blameless Lamb would give Himself up as a sacrifice, taking our place, our punishment for our sin… so that we would gain access to heaven, to be able to spend eternity with Him, if we choose to believe & live our time on earth for Him.
And it all started with a baby boy… the baby we see in all the nativity scenes decorating mantles, front yards, and tree ornaments during the month of December.
We see it every year during December, so it is easy to look at a nativity scene & not think twice about it. I want to challenge you to think about the amount of perfect love that entered our perfectly-messy, rollercoasteresque existence when you see baby Jesus laying in that nicely-constructed ceramic stable-scene. Remember how truly undeserving we are of what He did for us & how that fact is what makes His grace & love so amazing.