“Then the Angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, ‘Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all people: today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the City of David. This will be the sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.’” Luke 2:9-12 Christian Standard Bible
I will always remember the births of both my girls. The circumstances surrounding each were very different, a difference in venue and in amenities. Our eldest was born in the hospital in a room made just for delivering babies. As she was our first, we were quite excited and nervous all at the same time. Many of you can also relate to those feelings with the birth of your own first child.
It was an amazing event, as was the birth of our second daughter. The differences between the two were firstly the amount of time each took to arrive, and secondly where their births took place. Our second daughter was born in a birthing center which was quite different from the hospital. Nice hot tub for mom to try to relax in as she was in the middle of those contractions, a special chair, and special room. The atmosphere was very different, more relaxing! The places where both girls were born had nice beds, clean linen, nurses, and doctors available for any emergency!
No matter how different their births were, they are the most amazing gifts we have ever received other than when God gave Joni and me to each other. We knew nothing about being parents, and back then there were very few books telling young parents how to be parents. Now there are a plethora of books by an incredible amount of authors giving expert advice. If you have any questions concerning what to do in any given situation with your child, very likely you will find a book to give you the needed advice.
An area where I have way more experience is working on dairy farms. Yes, I said dairy farms. I worked on one through high school, then for a couple years afterwards. One thing that can be said for dairies is the smell is quite unmistakable! It also permeates everything, and I mean everything, clothes, homes, cars anything within smelling distance!
The calves are kept in pens, at least they were kept in pens at the dairy I worked on in high school. We put down straw so the calves would have clean places to lie down. But then the straw and muck would build up and need to be “mucked out,” not the job anyone wanted to be chosen to do! Whoever had the questionable privilege of that chore definitely reeked when done, the term “stinking to high heaven” certainly applied.
So why share all this unnecessary dairy information; why tell you about my girls and where they were born? Just this, my girls were born where they were safe, warm, clean, protected, and without the smell of any barnyard animals!
However, the Creator of the Universe chose to be born in Palestine about 2000 years ago to a young Jewish girl under less than desirable circumstances. Because of questions concerning her pregnancy, she was nearly set aside by her betrothed. After their marriage they were required to travel a long distance to a different city with Mary very near her delivery time. When they arrived at their destination, they discovered there weren’t any accommodations for them to stay except a place where animals were stabled. Remember I mentioned the smell that goes with those spaces inhabited by farm animals? It’s easy to skim over that detail; we usually don’t stop to think about where Jesus, our Creator, the Messiah of all humanity, was born.
Songs are sung about the Babe in a Manger; there are stories, plays offering cute children playing lambs, cows, sheep, donkeys, Mary and Joseph. We love singing Christmas Carols, watching all those cheesy Christmas movies, being moved by the wonder we experience as we remember what the meaning of Jesus is all about!
Why would the Creator of this world choose to be born as a human in the first place? What could it possibly have gained Him to settle on this way of entering His place in this world? There were plenty of other places to be born other than in a barn! Let’s face it, God could have just as easily held off the delivery until there was a better time and place for it to happen!
However, for whatever reason, God decided His Son would be born in a place where farm animals were kept. It wasn’t clean and sanitary, it didn’t smell nice, it hadn’t been scrubbed clean. It smelled like a barn, because was a barn!
Out in the countryside, a group of shepherds were keeping watch over their sheep. They had a small fire going to try to keep warm, and as the evening wore on their conversation turned to other topics besides their sheep. Suddenly, the night sky burst into light, a blazing light that blinded the shepherds where they fell.
The angel gave the message to the shepherds declaring to the Universe the most amazing miracle and Gift that had or would ever be given! All at once the sky was full of angels and they declared the wonder of the Messiah as He would bring peace on earth and good will to all men!
The message given to the shepherds told them they would discover the Messiah in a manager. The One who would save His people from their sins would be found in a manger, a place where animals were fed. They would find their Messiah in a barn!
The Savior of all humanity, the One who Created everything, was born in a barn. What a Strange Way to Save the World!