Luke 2:7 “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” KJV
|My parents first nativity set,
passed down to me
These days when we think of a stable and a manger, it is a picture that the movies created. A nice warm barn, full of hay and cuddly farm animals and softly lit by the light from heaven. A husband looking lovingly at his sweet wife and their beautiful baby all wrapped in a soft white blanket. Seriously now! Have you ever had a baby???? In what lifetime would a woman be happy and sweet having a baby in a barn? Not only was it not a barn, as most stables back then were caves cut into the hillsides, but it was probably cold and damp, dirty and lit only by a candle. And the manger? More than likely it was a depression in a rock, used to feed or water the animals. Oh and let’s not forget the animals. Forget the cute and cuddly sheep and the softly lowing (is that really a word?) cows. Sheep lived in fields and they didn’t have milk cows in Bethlehem. If anything, there would have been horses, burro’s, and maybe a camel or two. Not exactly the roommates a pregnant woman would want. Not to mention the smell! We currently have a pregnant daughter living at home and between the whining about the food, the smells, and the accommodations, I can only imagine how happy Joseph was when he was given the privilege of telling Mary that she was going to have a baby in a barn!!!
If you think about this poor couple and how their life had gone up to this point, you have to feel some measure of sympathy for them. Here they are, just going along through life, getting engaged, planning their wedding, probably putting things aside for their future home. Along comes Gabriel, the angel sent from God, to tell Mary that she is going to carry the Christ child. Not only that, she is going to become pregnant while not married to Joseph. As for Joseph, he figures he will quietly back out of this whole mess. Another angel comes along and tells him “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:20b NIV So they went forward with their plans, only to find out that they had to travel across the country in Mary’s last month of pregnancy to be counted in the census. Just imagine how that went!!! Nine months pregnant and riding on a donkey for a couple of days! That must have just been a blast for poor Joseph. He probably wanted to throw himself under a passing camel about halfway through the trip.
These two young people persevered through every imaginable and unimaginable trial that was placed before them. They obviously loved each other very much and were strong in their understanding of the Lord. They were willing to let everyone gossip about them and make comments about their status. They probably endured taunting and for sure Joseph’s friends told him to find someone else, someone more worthy of his lineage. No one knew what was going on in their life. No one knew that Mary carried the King of Kings. They kept moving forward, kept praying, kept listening to their God. They didn’t let the opinions or viewpoints of others get in their way. For they knew that they were chosen to do a great thing.
When I think of how often I am quick to judge someone else, quick to think I know what’s best for them, quick to offer my opinion about things I know nothing about, I am ashamed. For God loved this world so much that He sent His son to us by way of an unmarried teenage girl who was willing to to do whatever her God asked of her, no matter what people said about her. I pray that I will always be mindful of the fact that only God knows the truth of all things. That He alone knows the contents of our heart and of our character. May I always follow His commandment that I should love everyone and let Him be the judge.