Part 6:  The Nativity

And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Luke 2: 6-7

When a baby is born, all the family and relatives go to the hospital room and see the new-born child. The baby is cared for by nurses and doctors, ensuring that the infant would be well taken care of, constantly monitored, and sufficiently safe. Even months or weeks before giving birth, the parents would do all that they can to see to it that the delivery of the baby would be well under way, taking care of every detail from hospital arrangements, doctor availability, and medical facilities.

Everything is prepared for in advance and the newly born baby is made room for in the family and in the home.

Contrast this beautiful picture to the actual birth of Jesus Christ, as seen in the scriptural records, and you will see a stark message laden in the story of the Nativity, on the night that the Savior was born.

It just so happened that Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem for the consensus ordered by Caesar Augustus—then the ruling roman emperor over all the land, including Israel. They had to travel a distance of about 70-120 miles from where Joseph was situated at Nazareth in the region of Galilee (north) to go down to Bethlehem in the region of Judea (south).

Since Jewish folk were in animosity with the Samaritans (or half-blooded/intermingled Jews), most Jewish travelers would avoid the region in between Galilee and Judea, which is Samaria. This made the journey even longer since they had to cross the Jordan River to the east, travel southward, and then cross the river westward again just to get into the region of Judea.

The rough equivalent is of traveling from Manila to Baguio—not in a cozy car or lazy-boy bus, but on a wagon hauled by a donkey or on camelback. This journey, if you can imagine it, took a grueling 4 days to as much as 7 days (if they traveled only by day and had stopovers), almost a full week of traversing on foot and on beast through the rough desert region and dangerous thief-laden trails (not to mention that by this time, Mary was full-on pregnant mode—moody and hormonal—due to give birth any day). Talk about a lot of stress for Mary who had higher chances of a miscarriage due to traveling long distance (and even worse for Joseph).

As if that was not enough, when the time finally came for Mary to give birth, there was no place or accommodations for them anywhere in town. The scriptures record there was no place to stay in the inn, no hospitable guest-takers who would be willing to open their home for a couple on the verge of giving birth, and no Jewish AirBnb with high ratings to take them in as well. What a troubling time it was!

Desperate and having no place to stay, Mary and Joseph took to a place for animals, a barn or stable. Take note however that in those days, there weren’t any cute animals placed in neat little barns like you see in farms nowadays. The place were animals were probably placed in was a cave nearby the mountainous region. It would have probably been a cave carved into the mountain as was the custom in those days.

See the picture already?

The long-awaited Messiah of Israel and Savior of the World was born in a dark and dirty cave, among beasts and animals, covered in bloody sheets and placed in a undignified manger—where cattle would feed on. There were no hospital staff, nurses and doctors, to oversee a safe delivery, no relatives to welcome the newly born baby, and no 5-star hospital accommodations for the laboring mother and father.

Instead of a family to welcome him, he was visited by lowly and despised shepherds, the poorest of the society. Instead of a great warm welcome, the Son of Man was born in the cold of the freezing temperatures of the Judean mountainside. This Messiah, was born in obscurity and in a deafening silence. This Savior, was born penniless to a poor family, struggling to make ends meet. The King of the universe was born in the lowliest and humblest way possible.

The Magi (wise men from the east), who visited shortly after the birthday of Jesus, offered their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They were strangers, more aptly, Gentile or Non-Jewish folk who rendered worship unto Jesus. At the very least, these astrologists saw the heavens declaring something through the Star that they followed to seek out this newly born baby. Their gifts to Jesus foreshadow the story of his life:

Gold – a symbol of royalty and divinity, speaking of Jesus’ character as God in the flesh. The Ark of the Covenant was laden with Gold (Exodus 25:10-17) to point to its great value. This gift of gold was enough to take care of the first few months of Jesus’ life and was a necessary support for Mary and Joseph to flee into Egypt as news broke out of King Herod’s intent on killing all the male children in Bethlehem to rid the prophesied King of the Jews.

Frankincense – a symbol of righteousness and holiness, a highly fragrant incense used in worship, alluding to a pleasing aroma unto the Lord (as was done in the temple worship, Exodus 30:34), where Jesus was willing to sacrifice himself to become the fragrant burnt offering, pleasing to God in every way through His perfect life.

Myrrh – a symbol of affliction and suffering, it was used in embalming corpses for burial. This was a foreshadowing of how the Savior was to die on the Cross as the perfect substitute, the Lamb to be slain for the sins of the world.

This baby was born in the same way that he was to be buried: wrapped in bloody cloths and placed in a dark rock-cut cave (tomb). This baby was born into a world of trouble and there was no room for him, not even the people’s hearts. When all of the people should have known who had been born on that day, no one believed in the ancient prophecies foretelling the coming of the Messiah. When all of Israel should have been rejoicing at the coming of the Savior, no one remembered the long-held promise of Yahweh to send a redeemer.

There was simply no room for Jesus.

In your own life, are you making room for Christ to dwell? In this season of merriment and busyness, do you carve out time just to be in fellowship and communion with God through prayer, meditation, silence, reflection, worship, and devotion?

Consider this a time of where you can leave everything else just for a moment like the shepherds and the wise men, and offer worship to the King.

Through the story of the Nativity, we see God’s attributes in action: how he took care of Joseph and Mary in the journey, how even in having no place to stay at the inn, they were able to have shelter, and even when there were no others, God sent shepherds, wise men, and a choir of multitudes of Angels at this glorious event. Even in the silence of that night, all of heaven was rejoicing for this baby that was born, will bring redemption and salvation with him. He is the promise of God, fulfilled. What promises of God have you abandoned in believing? Be assured that what God has promised, He will surely bring to pass.