“The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Luke 2:11-12 (NLT)
It must have seemed odd to the shepherds. There they were, surrounded by the host of angels, being told that the long-prophesied Messiah was finally here. Surely he would have arrived in state. Surely he should have been found in a court, or a beautiful house, or at the very least a respectable inn.
But no, the angels told them they would find the baby, wrapped in stops of cloth and lying in a manger.
That was the sign that would let them know THIS was the child, this was the Messiah, the LORD.
What an odd sign, what a strange proclamation.
The carol says it best: “Why lies he in such mean estate, where ox and ass are feeding?”
Because this child, this Messiah, this Lord, was – from the very beginning – about sacrifice. About choosing the hard road, so that others wouldn’t have to. About forfeiting his glory (that is, his Heavenly state) to win glory (that is, eternal life) for those who didn’t even deserve it (that is, you and I).
So, no court or house or inn for him. Instead, a lowly manger. A place where the poor shepherds would fit in. A place where the least could come to worship him. A place rude and bare, but fit for Jesus who humbled himself for us.
This Advent, may you see the beauty in the strange signs of His birth. May you know the Messiah who comes in humility, from his very first breath. And may you be blessed.