|Posted by Donna Dawson on March 1, 2018 at 9:35 AM|
Many of us have heard the Christmas story. Year after year we listen as the account of the shepherds is read or acted out. And every year we hear how the baby Jesus would be found lying in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes. All my life, I wondered what the big deal was about swaddling clothes. After all, isn't every baby wrapped in swaddling clothes? Then I went to Israel and I learned the significance of swaddling clothes.
Apparently, in the good old days of Caesar Augustus, travellers did most travelling via sandal express. They walked. And on that long walk to wherever they journeyed, there was always the possibility of a death among the travelling company. So what does one do with the body when they can't get it to the morgue post haste? Well...they wrap them in swaddling clothes and lay them in a quickly dug grave.
A swaddling cloth is a long, wide strip of linen or homespun that every person would have carried with them when they travelled. It was considered poor taste to bury a body without washing and binding it first and a dead body had to be buried before sundown so as not to draw any undesirable critters.
So...now we step into the manger scene. Joseph and Mary clearly didn't expect to deliver a baby on the road otherwise they would have packed something to wrap the child in. But God had other plans. You see, He wanted to make a statement. He wanted to verify that the shepherds had indeed found the right child but He also declared in that discovery the purpose of that special child. Jesus didn't come to be a political ruler like they were hoping. He was born to die. And so, he was wrapped in swaddling clothes in a prophetic statement in anticipation of most amazing event in history. And here we all thought it was just a baby blanket.
Categories: theology in the raw