The moment in time, that changed the course of history has arrived. The heavenly clock that begun in the garden 4,000 years before, when the Messiah was promised, has stopped, as these two short verses reveal the holy God incarnate taking His first earthly breath.
And while they were there, the time came for her [Mary] to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:6-7)
We so often see this scene portraying a baby lying in the picture perfect bed of soft hay and wrapped in pristine white cloth as his mother and father stands by his side gazing peacefully.
In reality the picture was very messy… because this baby was born in a cave used as a home for the inn keeper’s animals. And this night there would have been many more as the guests from the inn would have housed their animals there, as well. Stinky, hairy, noisy animals would have taken residence in this small cave shared by this tired couple. It would have been a challenge for Joseph to clean a small area of that cave for Mary to have a place to settle down as she began to feel the first pains of labor.
As Mary’s pain increased Joseph knew he would need some water to clean up after childbirth. The dirty water from the cisterns he found would not do. Did he go searching for the town well to draw fresh water? Was there a stream nearby? The thought of leaving Mary as her labor intensified to find water may have been more than Joseph could contain at that moment.
As he returns, Mary is in the throws of childbirth as sweat drips from her entire being. Joseph takes her hand as Mary’s grip becomes tighter and tighter. “Where did this strength come from and when will this end?” He feels so helpless as he watches Mary struggle for every breath. Finally, after what seemed to be hours, she lets out a scream that brings the One inside into sight.
Joseph grabs hold of the baby as the infant fights his way free of his mother’s womb. He takes off his robe and begins to wipe away the fluids from the birth canal, finally able to see glimpses of this tiny creature. He turns to see Mary lying collapsed on the hard earth.
“Now what?” was probably his thought. “How do I detach this little life from his mother? What do I need to do for Mary lying in a pool of fluids?” There wasn’t a class in childbirth that Joseph took to prepare for this moment.
Somehow he manages, finding some long strips of cloth used for burial, he wraps the baby tight and brings him close to Mary. Her eyes open to see the one she had housed within her own body as he shivers from the dampness of the cave. Joseph places the baby in her arms extending warmth. The sound of her heart beat lulls the little one to sleep and for a moment all is calm.
I don’t know if this is how it all happened that night as the details are not recorded. But, no matter the details, we know that night, so long ago, God pulled back the curtain revealing his passion for the hearts of men as He allowed His Son to come into the world as an infant.
Many people in the world claim to know God but it is not until you know His Son, Jesus, that you can truly know Him. During His time on earth Jesus said, “If you really know Me, you will know my Father [God] as well…. for no one can come to the Father except through Me [Jesus].”
The key to knowing God is Jesus! If you do not know Jesus, Oh, how I pray you would understand His love for you. This night, so long ago, was only the beginning of His story. This baby was born for one purpose and that was to die. To die for the sins of man and to make a way so that we could be with Him forever in the glories of heaven upon our death.
He longs for you to come to Him this Christmas. Don’t ignore the tugging in your heart to see the truth that is lying in a manger. Jesus came to earth to show your worth… He loves you perfectly and is waiting for you to love Him in return.
Now that is the best gift ever!