by Daniel McCabe
Birth of Jesus
Luke 2:7, “And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
That last contraction reminded Mary of other famous births on these same fertile hills. One millennium earlier Jesse’s bride had given birth here to the great King David. The harlot Rahab too had married and settled down here, giving birth to Boaz and later rejoicing in her son’s marriage to the beautiful Moabitess, Ruth. Sadly Jacob’s wife, Rachel, died here while giving birth to Joseph of “the coat of many colors” fame.
Just ahead, the little town of Bethlehem soaked up the fading rays of windy sunlight streaming in from Mary’s right as another Joseph—her Joseph—tirelessly guided their sure-footed donkey with Mary aboard over the few remaining hills that separated them from the hope of a restful night’s sleep and a hot meal. Just to her left lay the hot, yellow sands of the Judean Desert that routinely invaded the “House of Bread,” forcing Bethlehemite farmers to abandon their wheat and barley crops for a day and to sit in the shade of the city’s walls, whittling olive wood and wondering when their Messiah would come. Ten miles to Mary’s left and almost 3000 feet straight down lapped the lifeless blue waters of the Dead Sea, but ahead Bethlehem buzzed with activity as descendents of David thronged through its gates to register in obedience to Caesar’s decree.
The contractions pounded ever closer now as Mary and Joseph arrived to find no vacancies anywhere in town, but God had already done the impossible in Mary’s life when the betrothed virgin conceived a child of the Holy Spirit. Finding a resting-place for a weary couple posed no problem for God. One innkeeper, picking up on the Galilean accent of the couple, realizing that they had traveled far, noting Mary’s obvious need for shelter, and obeying the prompting of God in his heart, offered Mary and Joseph the use of his stable, cut into the rock-hill behind his inn. Mary and Joseph had traveled days to find their needed rest in that small stable-cave and to give birth to one who later promised all those who made their way to him, “You will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29).
Today, marked by a fourteen-point star in a small Greek Orthodox grotto inside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the traditional site of the birthplace of Jesus serves as a memorial to Mary’s firstborn Son and Savior. Wrapped in strips of cloth to give warmth and comfort to the little King and lying in a manger, typically used for feeding cattle, the birth of the Bread of Life changed human history or as Philips Brooks beautifully stated in his classic Bethlehem carol, “Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light—the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”
If this day you too are weary and worn from a long journey of your own, remember that God is your resting-place. When all other doors are shut tight to your needs, look to the stable. Look to the one who offers rest for your soul.
Further Reading: Luke 2:1-7
Dr. Daniel McCabe is the pastor of Faith Bible Church in Spring, Texas. He is a contributing editor for The Jerusalem Connection Report. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.