All Meanly Wrapped

“And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

So proclaimed the Angel to the shepherds in Luke 2:12.

Certainly, the shepherds departed from that well-illuminated hillside and made their way to the town whereat they

‘came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.’  (v16)

We had some discussion at the Bible Study last week about the significance of the swaddling- was this the sign to the shepherds, or His lying in a manger, or both? Several interesting explanations for swaddling emerge- that the shepherds carefully swaddled those lambs reserved for Temple sacrifice; or that they anticipated the grave clothes from which His resurrected body would walk free, to offer two.

I would suggest that most babies then were swaddled: tightly wrapped in strips of cloth to keep them warm. It is the manger that would strike the shepherds as unusual, not the swaddling. His makeshift cot bespeaks His humility as well as His office of Good Shepherd, the One to whom the shepherd-king, David, pointed. So was there any significance of the swaddling cloths? I think they primarily signify the reality of His humanity- even as a baby, He felt the cold. There was no golden halo in whose heat and light He could bathe relax; the cold winds blew through those crude wooden boards, chilling baby, parents and all. This was a miraculous birth, a divine incarnation, yet it was also the birth of a real human being, not some mirage or vision. When He cooled, He shivered; when He bled, He died.

"The heavenly babe you there shall find
to human view displayed,
all meanly wrapped in swaddling clothes
and in a manger laid."

"All glory be to God on high,
and to the earth be peace;
to those on whom his favor rests
goodwill shall never cease."

Image by Dennis Gries from Pixabay