“She gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger” (v7)
At his birth, she wrapped him in strips of cloth and placed him in a manger. At his death, she was present when they embalmed him using similar cloth strips and placed him in a tomb. (John 20:5; Matt 27:61.)
“Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (vv11-12)
We hear these verses so often each year but think about the unbelievable joining of those words: ‘Saviour’, ‘Messiah’, and ‘Lord’, with ‘Baby’ and ‘Manger’! Once the shepherds had seen, they understood, and spent the rest of their days praising God and spreading the good news. Nothing empowers the message as much as the passionate story from an eye-witness! What kind of witnesses are we?
“On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.” (v21)
The angel had already named him – acting as God’s messenger – but the earthly privilege was given to his legal father, the faithful Joseph, who was, in reality, Jesus’ stepfather (see Matthew 1:25).
Later, when Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the temple to ‘present him to the Lord’ and to offer a purification sacrifice for him after 40 days (Exodus 13:2, 12), being poor they offered two doves, rather than a lamb and a dove. I wonder whether they knew that they were also offering the Lamb too? (John 1:29 “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”)
Simeon was “righteous and devout” (v25); Anna the prophetess “never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying” (v37).
It is highly significant that God chose to reveal the most precious thing he had to those two particular people. What does this say to us today about devotion, worship, and commitment?
Children do get ‘lost’ sometimes, and Jesus’ earthly parents were no different from many of us in having that frightening experience. They had to wait three days to locate their son – in the most obscure place they could imagine, and the most obvious place for him: his Father’s house! Today, we are not concerned with buildings, but with households. If you want complete security and deep understanding of the most important questions in life, then go to your Heavenly Father’s house – join his household – belong to his family. At the tender age of twelve, the boy Jesus was wiser than some of us will ever be!