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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Why the Stable?

Photo: FreeBibleImages

The Bible tells us the story of Joseph and Mary traveling to Bethlehem because of the census. They went to Bethlehem—the city of David—because Joseph was a direct descendent. The Bible says, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn (Luke 2:6-7).

I’ve heard some awesome readings and stories based on the fact that there was no room in the inn. Why wasn’t there room? We don’t know.

Why was God in Flesh born in a stable?

If God had wanted, Jesus could have been born anywhere, in any conditions. His birthplace could have been a palace, a lovely house, a beautiful place. After all, Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6, For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

The wise men expected to find the King in a palace. They traveled to Jerusalem to ask about the new King, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born (Matthew 2:2, 4).

But, Jesus wasn’t born in a palace or a beautiful house.

Why a stable? Actually, the Bible never mentions a stable or barn. It’s a logical place for a manger. We know that Baby Jesus was put there after he was born (three times in Luke 2). Some scholars believe Joseph and Mary stayed in the ground floor of the house, where the animals would have sheltered. Others believe Jesus might have been born in a cave or a separate stable. We don’t know, but the Baby was laid in a manger.

The manger was a sign to the shepherds. They would know where to find Him. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger (Luke 2:12, 16).

It was part of Jesus’ humbling Himself and taking on the form of a servant. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:5-11).

Yet Jesus was and is the Promised King. When Jesus appeared before Pilate, Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice (John 18:37). Jesus said He was born so that the world would know truth.

Why the manger?

Maybe it’s because Jesus is the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29b). It was the most fitting place for a Lamb.

Christina Rossetti, one of my favorite poets, wrote this in 1859:

            Before the paling of the stars,
            Before the winter morn,
            Before the earliest cockcrow
            Jesus Christ was born:
            Born in a stable,
            Cradled in a manger,
            In the world His Hands had made
            Born a Stranger.

            Priest and King lay fast asleep
            In Jerusalem,
            Young and old lay fast asleep
            In crowded Bethlehem:
            Saint and Angel, Ox and Ass,
            Kept a watch together,
            Before the Christmas daybreak
            In the winter weather.

            Jesus on His mother’s breast
            In the stable cold,
            Spotless Lamb of God was He,
            Shepherd of the Fold:
            Let us kneel with Mary Maid,
            With Joseph bent and hoary,**
            With Saint and Angel, Ox and Ass,
            To hail the King of Glory.*

Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah) is born of God:
and every one that loveth him that begat
loveth him also that is begotten of him.
(1 John 5:1)


* The Poetical Works of Christina Georgina Rossetti, with a Memoir and Notes by William Michael Rossetti (1904), Page 217. 

** We aren't told Joseph's age in the Bible, but tradition says he was much older than Mary, simply because she was a widow when Jesus was crucified. We don't know if he passed away young or old.


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