Skip to content
Dec 25 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

December 23, 2018 – Luke 2:6-7

Mary’s Christmas Podcast

Mary’s Christmas

While they were there, the days were completed for [Mary] to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the in. Luke 2:6-7

Intro: Once again I ask myself, how will I approach this familiar story?

It won’t hurt if we start right here and now, in our own world
– soon we’ll visit Mary and Joseph
• but we’re 2000 years and a world away from them
• why do we even bother with a story so old and distant?
◦ it is because we know this story was written for us
– and that raises another question – Why did Luke tell the story of Jesus?
• I’m convinced it was because he wanted us to know Jesus
◦ and Luke knew this story is for everyone
◦ it is just as the angel told the shepherds,

. . . behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people (v. 10)

• it’s not that we’re going to find the meaning of our lives in the story
◦ but we will discover that our lives have a meaning
◦ and the key to living that meaning is in the manger

Those of us who shop on online have become spoiled

In the past, when I ordered used books by phone or snail mail
– I was told it would take six to eight weeks for book to arrive
• when I first started buying books from Amazon, they arrived in two to three weeks
◦ now I can request next day delivery!
• there’s no reason for me to delay gratification or be patient
◦ I’m spoiled
– but some things we cannot rush – like a pregnancy
• Luke tells us, while in Bethlehem Mary’s package finally arrived
◦ what he actually says, the days were completed for her to give birth
◦ Mary’s pregnancy reached full term
• and the days were completed for God’s promise to be fulfilled
◦ God’s promise that Gabriel delivered to Mary
◦ and his wider promise to Eve (Gen. 3:15), to Moses (Deut. 18:15 & 18), and the prophets

I say this as a reminder of the bigger picture
– Christmas cards that depict the Bethlehem scene often have a warm glow
• it indicates not only the love of a family, but the sacredness of the moment
• Luke, however, does not create a literary glow in his story
◦ at least not at this point — he just gives information
◦ there was no infusion of glory around the manger
– so we remind ourselves that a miracle is unfolding
• there is only this small, fragile human life;
◦ a baby that cries and nurses at his mother’s breast
• yet within his tiny chest there beats the heart of God

From ancient times, parents swaddled newborn babies

According to social science research that Bruce Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh bring to the gospels:

“Swaddling has been widely practiced throughout the world and is still used in villages of Syria, Palestine, and Lebanon. . . . Swaddling went out of style among upper-class Western Europeans in the eighteenth century as much for social as for scientific reasons, coming to be considered an unnatural restraint on human freedom.”

– in natural childbirth classes, I learned how to swaddle
• I found it very useful – to keep babies warm
◦ and to prevent them from scratching themselves with their tiny fingernails
• although my son Will successfully freed himself every time
◦ I’m sure that today he could escape a straight-jacket
– I can’t help but wonder, where was the mid-wife?
• normally, whatever family Joseph had in Bethlehem would be involved
◦ the women would help with the delivery and caring for the baby
• maybe this was something Mary didn’t trust to anyone else
◦ she had to wrap this Christmas present for herself

Whenever I read, she wrapped him in cloths, and laid him in a manger,
– my mind automatically races to the end of the story

And a man named Joseph . . . went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. And he took it down and wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb . . . (Lk. 23:53)

• loving hands wrapped the baby and placed him in a manger
◦ loving hands wrapped the body and placed it in a tomb
– if there’s a warm glow of the divine,
• there’s also a dark shadow that passes over the baby’s face
◦ it was not the infant that said the following words,
◦ but the grown man who would confide to his disciples,

I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished! (Lk. 12:50)
Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, “Father, save Me from this hour”? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name (Jn. 12:27-28)

• we cannot separate the two – the cradle and the cross
◦ in the crib, we find Jesus adorable;
◦ on the cross, Jesus is magnificent

It was not unusual for a baby’s first bed to be a manger

At least not in the homes of peasants
– in many homes, a stone food trough separated the living areas
• (between the human family and their animals)
◦ it would be a matter of convenience to use the manger as a crib
• this is worth noticing — Jesus Christ was born into a peasant family
◦ he never acted like he was too good for someone else
◦ he had no problem referring to himself as a servant
– Luke explains that there wasn’t room for them in the inn
• he doesn’t mean anything like a hotel or bed-and-breakfast
◦ there’s another word for that, and Jesus uses it in his parable of the good Samaritan (Lk. 10:34)
◦ Jericho was an important point along a major trade route; it made sense to find an inn there
• the word Luke uses here is later translated “guest room” (Lk. 22:11)
◦ it would have been a room addition for extended family
◦ but Mary and Joseph were bumped out of that
(probably to accommodate someone of higher status)
• they were in humble quarters and had to make do

The story jumps abruptly from the manger to the hills outside the village

This is where the glory shines – and it falls on shepherds (Lk. 2:9)
– the Christmas gift is for them

for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (Lk. 2:11)

• there were people at that time who would have said,
◦ “No one needs saving more than those dirty shepherds”
• but they play a key role
◦ first, there’s the romantic tie with David, shepherd in Beth.
◦ second, the connection with Jesus, the Good Shepherd (Jn. 10:11)
◦ but the simple fact is, that other than the disabled, shepherds were at the bottom rung of society

The baby swaddled, was now sleeping in the manger
– I imagine Mary trying to sleep too
• it’s been said that the physical exertion of delivery is the same as having run a marathon
• but even though exhausted, her body is still revved up
◦ so she sits and stares at the pink face
– there’s no indication she’s thinking back on Gabriel’s visit
• wondering at Jesus’ destiny or what his life will be like
• perhaps she’s more concerned with her own life
◦ what kind of mother will she be?
◦ does she even know how to do this?
– but her quiet thoughts are interrupted by the intrusion of strangers
• can you hear one shepherd shouting to the others,  “I found him! They’re over here.”
◦ hyper-active and animated, the shepherds were blabbering about angels,
◦ about glory and salvation and Christ the Lord

Conclusion: We refer to Mary, Joseph and Jesus as “The Holy Family”

Together they are the mathematical foundation of family
– mother, father and child – an earthly triad
• their accommodations may not be five-star, and there was no room-service
◦ but they are safe and snug
• they are family – they have each other
– I remember when my kids were old enough to be out on their own
• whenever they were all at home, sleeping in their old rooms,
◦ I had this wonderful feeling of deep security and comfort
◦ all the birds, safe in the nest, under our roof

This painting of the Holy Family in a rustic surrounding,
– speaks to us – they invite us to join them for Christmas
• everyone is welcome and absolutely anyone may enter

You need to know this!
Joining the holy family for Christmas
has nothing to do with your worthiness or merit,
but everything to do with Jesus’ love and compassion
You see, it is not only the earthly triad that invites you into their circle;
they are merely representatives of the heavenly Triad
The Father, Son and Holy Spirit invite you into their circle

So you might want to write yourself a note
and first thing Christmas morning get up and read it
Remind yourself to praise God
for welcoming you into his home for Christmas,
saying, Glory to God in the highest!

Leave a comment