A Place of Ignoble Birth
“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.” Luke 2:7
The Christmas Story of Jesus’ birth is a combination of historical record and church tradition. The historical and biblical record of the events are interwoven from our childhood with poetry and imagery found in the songs that we sing during the season and the stories that have surrounded the narrative for centuries. So it is with the stable. Some have argued that the “stable” was actually a part of a house, a place where valued animals such as cows and goats (1 or 2 at most) and possibly a few sheep may have been housed. The “stable” would have been attached to the house but not in the house per se.
The idea of Joseph and Mary and the Babe spending at least the first night of His birth in “a stable” is not specifically mentioned in the Scriptures. But the manger is specifically mentioned and mangers even in the time of Jesus’ birth were associated with stables where animals were kept. Therefore, it is concluded that Jesus was born in a stable. Whether He was or not is a matter for debate. What we do know is that from the time they arrived in Bethlehem until the moment of Jesus’ birth a number of days had passed and they had not been able to find other lodging in a more suitable place like the Inn.
“And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.” Luke 2:6
With days to prepare for the delivery it is remarkable that the baby would be laid in a manger if better accommodations were available. No one generally kept mangers in their houses as cribs for newborn babies. So leaving that to the biblical scholars to sort out, I believe the message is clear and certain.
What we can conclude from all this is that Jesus’ birthplace was among common folks. Shepherds were considered lower class and even despised by some of the elite in that time. Whether Jesus was born in a stable or in someone’s humble peasant dwelling, it was a place where the shepherds would have felt welcomed to come. It would also have been a place that they could relate to as part of their everyday life.
So what does this mean for us today? It means that Jesus came to be the Savior of all the world, not just the rich who rested in lofty places but of the poor peasants whose daily living was hard and rough, who lived in rugged and often humble places that they were obliged to share with their livestock. The shepherds were the first to come and worship Him. Later, the nobility, the Kings, the Magi from the East came with their gifts of gold, Frankincense and Myrrh to worship Him.
But this humble place of birth whether in a stable or a house was the place where the glory of God entered the world to dwell as a man among men and women, to dwell as human among all human kind.
It was necessary for Him to do this in order to be the substitutionary sacrifice for our sins and not for ours only but for the whole world. [Hebrews 9]
He came as a Babe in a manger to live as a servant to men, to proclaim the gospel of life and that more abundantly, to die the death of sin for us, to be raised from the dead by the Spirit of God, to be seen by many witnesses after His resurrection, to ascend to the Father and to purify all things by His blood then to take His seat at the right hand of the Throne of God now and forever, in order to make a place for us to be seated together with Him in Heaven.
“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus…” Ephesians 2:6
The place of Jesus’ birth may have been humble and lowly but God made it a point of glory and majesty for the entrance of the Holy One, the Lamb of God, The King of Kings, The Lord Of Lords, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace to dwell among mankind and bring the Glory of God to dwell in ever heart that would believe and receive Him and through Him, through His blood, find redemption and forgiveness for their sins, to be born again to eternal life in Him. He is our Emmanuel, (Immanuel) our God Who has come to dwell with us.
“Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel*.
Hark the herald angels sing,
Glory to the new born king.”
*Emmanuel (Immanuel) = “God with us”