“This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” Luk 2:12 (NIV)
Perhaps it is this verse that we tend to hear most often quoted during Christmas – and for good measure too. It is miraculous that Jesus was born – not just because of his virginal conception, but the unrest in the land against young boys being killed upon birth. Add in his mother, Mary, being accused of adultery with the punishment normally being stoned to death and you have a miraculous birth with much adversity just to be born!
This babe in swaddling clothes, which means he was wearing a death shroud probably worn and dirty from his traveling “step-father,” Joseph, was born for a purpose. He was placed in a manger, which means he was sleeping not in a nice cozy cradle, but in a stone trough used to feed the animals he and his family shared sleeping space with at the time and was born a pauper.
This babe, poor, hated, misunderstood, but the very symbol of life was so much more than a babe in dirty cloths laying in a food trough. He was born to be a king. He was born to be a savior. He was born to die.
The birth of Jesus is a miracle. One we do not quite fully understand, yet we celebrate and believe. Have you ever asked yourself why you believe this incredible story about a Jewish baby being born in a cave?
Is it faith that makes you believe? Is it experience? Or have you just always heard the story and know nothing else? No matter your reasoning, the fact you believe is what is celebrated and miraculous in itself.
When Jesus was born his mother, Mary, knew what she had been told about his purpose. She knew he was a king. Yet there she was nursing him, diapering him, soothing his cries when he would teeth, be hungry, or gassy. He was like any other baby.
Can you imagine how that would feel? To hold the king of the universe in your arms! To nurse the savior at your breast! To bring comfort to he would become the ultimate comforter! What a gift. What a responsibility.
Joseph was Jesus’ step-father. What tremendous responsibility he must have felt. He was to provide for, raise, teach and love another’s son as his own. A son that was the king, coming savior, and Messiah everyone would be searching for. How do you give boundaries to a king? How do you both bow to authority of your savior and remain in authority as a parent? What a complicated position Joseph had.
This babe was so much more than just an innocent child. What faith it took for both Mary and Joseph to raise this innocent baby boy into what his purpose would be for.
The same is true for us. Although we may not be raising children to be saviors of the world we are raising each child to fulfill their purpose. If we do not have children we are probably helping other children and adults both finding and stepping into their purpose. Yet we all began as helpless babes nursing at our mother’s breast, needing comfort, soothing, and boundaries.
Jesus in swaddling cloths in a manger is the symbol for each of us fulfilling our purpose. It is by faith we believe this story. It is by faith we will walk into our purpose – just as Mary and Joseph did – just as Jesus would later do again.
So at Christmas as we prepare to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus, let us truly remember what we are celebrating: miraculous conception, miraculous birth, miraculous death and re-birth – a fulfilled prophecy.
It is a king willingly leaving his throne for a life of earthly circumstance. It is Father-God watching his son face temptation. It is a mother misunderstood, ridiculed, and made outcast for the love of her son. It is a step-father raising a son as his own with tremendous responsibility on his shoulders for the king of the universe. It is us believing and taking steps toward the great purpose God has given us.
Christmas is more than just a baby in a manger – but that is where it begins. May you find it’s purpose this season
Why do I believe the Christmas story? Am I the babe in the story or am I Mary and Joseph?
Do I know and understand my purpose? Am I taking steps toward that purpose?