5 – Christmas – Holy Family and Shepherds

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.

Gently wrapped in swaddling clothes, then a purple robe, nails that pierced these hands so dear, crown of thorns, the bitter tear, cries of pain, ours the gain, ‘it is finished’ hear Him cry! Why seek Him among the dead? He’s risen as He said.”

The promise of God from generation to generation was born, wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger. God left the throne of glory and became a human being in order to accomplish salvation by His death on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead.

The message of the angel to the shepherds is packed with those promises fulfilled. “Unto you is born this day in the city of David (true king of Israel), a Savior (the name Jesus means “Yahweh saves”) who is Christ (Messiah, anointed one) the Lord (Yahweh). The one, by whom all things came to be, came to earth to bring about the new creation (see John 1:1-18).

The angel announces to shepherds that their true Shepherd (Psalm 23) has come to earth to save them. God announces to humble shepherds outside Bethlehem that the Shepherd of our souls (1 Peter 2:25) has come to feed His flock and carry the lambs in His arms (Isaiah 40:10).

The shepherds hurried to find the baby. It wasn’t difficult, since they were told to look for a baby lying in a manger. What they had heard seemed to contrast what they saw. They heard “glory to God in the highest,” but they saw humble baby in a feeding trough. They had received God’s Word about this baby and that was enough. They believed, and made widely known what they had been told. May we also make widely known what we are told of Him.

Our manger scene is packed today, not just with characters, but with promises fulfilled. Forgiveness, daily grace, cleansing, peace, joy and love became flesh, was wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger. The lives of billions were forever transformed. A multitude which no one can number stands before God’s throne in heaven because of this child become man, our Savior.

Oh, the joy beyond expressing
When by faith we grasp this blessing,
And to You we come confessing
That Your love has set us free.