The Stable and the Tomb

Posted under The Rectory Bulletin | Christmas

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 2:7)

Before we leave Luke’s account of Jesus’s birth, perhaps you might indulge me in a small flight of fancy. I may be reading rather too much into this verse, but I wonder if we might find the shadow of Golgotha lying across this tender scene of new motherhood? I wonder if the beginning of Jesus’ life points to his death?

On Good Friday Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Jewish ruling council, made his way to the house of the Roman governor and asked Pilate for Jesus’ body. Permission granted, he made his way to the site of the crucifixion and took down Jesus’ body. We then read he “wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid” (Luke 23:53). Once more Jesus body is “wrapped” and once more his body is “laid” down. There was no room for the infant Jesus in the inn, so he was laid in a borrowed manger which had surely not been used as a crib before. Here Jesus is laid in a borrowed tomb, one in which no one had ever yet been laid.

The circumstances of Jesus’ burial are as humble as those of his birth. His tremendous, era defining significance comes not from what he has, but rather from who he is. His first and his final (temporary!) resting places were both borrowed, and he was wrapped by other hands for both.

At both ends of his earthly life we are invited to wonder that one so majestic should lain in something so humble, and so it is today. It is to humble hearts that Jesus comes, to those who trust him for who he is.

O God, Our Hope in Ages Past

O God, our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come, Our shelter from the stormy blast, And our eternal home; "Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” (Psalm 90:1-2) - God was their hope in ages past, and once more had brought them relief. We too worship that same God, and so we to shouldn’t be shy in allowing his faithfulness in the past to give us confidence in our future.

True Wisdom

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1) - The problem is that when you rely on your own understanding you don’t end up at the stable with Jesus. You end up face to face with Herod.

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