If you go with me to Israel next summer, we’ll likely go to the town of Megiddo where our guide will take us to the ruins of an ancient stable and show us a manger from biblical times. It is hewn from stone, not wood. That’s also in keeping with accounts we have from visitors to Bethlehem in the 1800s. Some of them stayed in homes that had cave-like areas used as stables for horses or burros. These had stone mangers built into the walls.
With that in mind, let me read you two verses from the Bible.
- Luke 2:7: She wrapped him in clothes and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available.
- Mark 15:46: So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of the rock.
I don’t want to make too much of this , but whenever we study the life of Christ, we see living poetry. Everything has significance. Nothing is by accident. His life evidences divine forethought in every detail, and His life has symmetry. It always comes full circle.
With that in mind, just consider this: It’s likely that at the beginning of His life, Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes and was placed in a hewn-out stone enclosure in which He slept until leaving to go out and eventually change the world. Thirty-three years later, He was again wrapped in tightly encircling cloths and placed in a hew-out stone enclosure in which He slept for three days before leaving that place to go out and change the world.
Both events were announced by heavenly heralds. Angels told the shepherds, “You will find Him wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Go see the place where they laid Him.” Thirty-three years later, angels told the disciples, “He is not here; He is risen. Go see the place where they laid Him.”
Jesus began and ended His earthly life by being wrapped tightly wounded clothing and laid in a cold stone enclosure, where He slept. His birth was a miniature version of His burial. Just as He left the manger to live a righteous life on our behalf, He left the tomb to live an enteral life for our sake.
That’s why it truly is a Merry Christmas!