I was there in the delivery room with my wife when she gave birth to each of our two boys. It was amazing and tearful to witness their births and to get that first glimpse of those tiny, wet and slippery, perfectly formed little humans. To have them take that first breath and hear their first cry of desperation and uncertainty, as they entered this world and environment, was a moment of thanksgiving and gratitude, but also brought with it a deep realization of responsibility.
On reflection, it causes me to think of that stable in Bethlehem a couple of thousand years ago. There they were, two young adults with a newborn baby that they had just wrapped in swaddling cloths and gently laid in a manger. The physical birth itself followed its normal course, but there the similarity ends. The conception of this child was different from any other. The mother was told beforehand that she would become pregnant with a very special child, not by her husband, Joseph, but by God Himself. For this particular child would be the Son of God, the long-promised messiah, who would save His people from their sins.
Attempting to visualize the scene and contemplate the conditions surrounding the event, it is obvious that the conditions at birth were less than ideal. Mary, the mother, knowing her time to deliver was at hand, was probably anxious, maybe even restless and irritable. “Joseph, where am I going to have this child? I’m about to give birth here!” Joseph, I imagine, was frantic in trying to find a place in town but nothing was available.
In his desperate search for a comfortable, safe, and private place for his wife, he was unsuccessful. With no other choices, he decided on an old barn (some believe it may have been nothing more than a cave or a small area carved out of limestone from which animals ate). At a minimum, it would have provided some shelter and privacy. The conditions were smelly and most certainly unsanitary, but Joseph made the best of the situation. Preparing a comfortable place for Mary, they waited for the moment. Was Joseph nervous, had he witnessed a birth before, did he know what to do? For me, I’d probably have panicked if placed in such a situation. Despite all this, the child was born followed by a deep sigh of relief and joy, the cry of the newborn upon entering such a strange environment…then silence as a deep reverence and awe overcame them. “What is this amazing miracle child? Just look at him!”
The words of the angel Gabriel, sent to Mary by God, must have been reverberating through her mind. “Mary, the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God. You will conceive in your womb and bear a Son, and you shall call His name, Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High and the Lord will give to Him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
There they were, rejoicing over this little miracle before them, difficult to comprehend and fully absorb what just happened. Amazingly, the child was God himself entering our world…the world He created and is the sovereign Lord over. Isaiah, the prophet, had prophesized 700 years earlier…”For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace…forevermore.
AND SO IT IS. HALLELUJAH!!!
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased.” What a difference there is between the gifts Santa Claus brings and the gift that Jesus gives. With Santa, you GET temporal gifts based on your good works…whether you’ve been naughty or nice; with Jesus Christ you RECEIVE an eternal gift of life, freely given, not based on your works but solely on the grace of God, when believing on and placing your trust in Him.