“And while they were there the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger because there was no lodging available for them.”
Luke 2:6-7, NLT
I know many of us have heard all the details of the Christmas story. Some of us have heard the history and the dissection of Jesus’ birth in scripture. We have let it mold and shape us as Christians. But when I re-read this portion this time around, I noticed a couple details that I had not thought over before. Maybe it's the writer in me, or the man that thrives off of genuine interaction through the grimiest of situations. Regardless of the reason why, I would like to bring to light a couple items that we maybe overlook… possibly due to the simplicity of the story or the complexity of Christ's 100% divine and 100% human nature status.
The first part worth taking note of is that Christ begins His life here on earth as we all do—as a frail little newborn. Now I’m betting there was crying because if there wasn't, I'm sure scripture would notate it if there had been any form of abnormality in delivery. The humanness of it all draws in a huge sum of us to experience true grace and love. The Christ who cleansed me of my sins also experienced true heartache on earth as a man. The tears I shed are understood by the God above, who experienced similar pains here below. Many of us struggle with the humanity aspect of Christ and his birth; we quickly forget that Christ experienced the same pains and heartache that we struggle through on a daily basis. His very birth was one of discomfort! No bassinets, no sanitized rooms, and no painkillers. Just some itchy straw, small pieces of cloth, and a small community of followers who believed in this prophesied birth. His birth resembles the community we seek as a church body: Grimy, stinky, transparent, honest and real. Most of us have traveled a long way just to worship and gift Him with what we have. This is akin to the wise men in this passage. Let us exhaust ourselves as we continue on forward, traveling to see the face of our savior.
The second part to recognize is that there wasn't any room for them in the inn. How often is it that we don’t have room for Christ? That hit me hard like a potent right hook from Riddick Bowe...the fact that we continually have areas of our life in which we "don't have room to let Him in". Those dark, hurtful places we claim full occupancy of even though we know they are damp and vacant. Maybe it contains a family photo, your internet history or memories of mishandled relationships. For us to occupy anything, He must occupy our innermost caverns. He not only wants to be King over our strife but King over the entirety of our life. Is there a space which you have declared there is no room for a baby Jesus? Recognize Christ’s humanity and that he has full understanding of your troubles and dark spaces. He responds in grace and truth to our brokenness. Open up the dark spaces to him, that he may mend your wounds. He was born in a manger, so he is experienced in the dirty, stinky places.
Let us be constantly reminded of how far He has taken us, how much He has protected us and how much more He wants to grow us and show us. Recognize and take comfort in Christ’s humanity and allow it to re-create the caverns in your heart. May we make room for the baby in the manger.
Devotional written by Stephen Dunegan and edited by Heather Christy. Graphic designed by Isaac Taleno.