The idyllic scene of the nativity is one that is etched into the minds of many people. Mary and Joseph are smiling at little baby Jesus, who sits peacefully in the manger. Shepherds are also huddled around the baby, watching his every move. Even the animals reverently bow their heads in acknowledgement of their holy houseguest.
There’s only one problem with this mental image.
It’s not the way it happened.
I’m not trying to burst anyone’s bubble by saying this. Nor am I suggesting that you throw away the nativity scene you may have displayed in your home. What I am suggesting, however, is that we take some time to consider the reality of the events surrounding the birth of the Savior. To contemplate these things does not cheapen Jesus’ birth. Instead, it gives us a greater understanding and appreciation of it.
Much of what we know of the events of Christ’s birth comes from Luke 2. Specifically, Luke 2:6,7 says, “And so it was, that, 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.”
Mary would have given birth, not in a sterile environment of a modern hospital, but in an enclosed area with animals. Why would animals have been present? Because a manger is not a synonym for a crib, but rather another name for a feeding trough. So Mary, undergoing the pains and fears of childbirth, would have had her precious baby surrounded by dirty, smelly animals, who were oblivious to the miracle happening mere feet away from them. After giving birth to him and cleaning him, she then had to lay him in a borrowed feeding trough for his first night’s sleep.
Now, compare this experience with the peaceful scene of the nativity. The two pictures don’t exactly match up. But why would I want us to consider this less-than-picture-perfect scene surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ?
It’s my desire that we consider how truly humble the birth of Jesus was. Think about it: the Creator (Colossians 1:16), the Word (John 1:1), the Almighty (Revelation 1:8) came to earth in the most unassuming of surroundings. In fact, he was born in surroundings that we would never want our children born into.
Why would God do such a thing? The answer is found in Philippians 2:7,8: “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.”
Jesus was born in simplicity, lived as a servant, and died as the Savior. He did all of this so we could be redeemed from our sins. For me, I don’t want to “clean up” that scene or make it into something akin to a Norman Rockwell painting. I want to remember the raw reality of the nativity, as this perfectly reflects the beauty of our Savior.
From the Riveiro family, we wish the wonderful people of Easton and the surrounding communities a merry Christmas. May Jesus be the center of your celebration.