12. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
You are probably familiar with the story of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. The Bible says that when the time had come, Mary “brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger”. (Luke 2:6–7) But have you ever wondered why the angel told the shepherds that the Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger was a “sign”?
A manger is actually a feeding trough for livestock. Do you know what a feeding trough in those days looks like? I have seen a similar one at Solomon’s stables in Meggido, Israel. It is basically a big rectangular block of stone with the trough hewn out of it. So baby Jesus, who was wrapped in swaddling cloths, was placed in such a stone trough.
But why was that a sign? Because if you have seen the empty tomb of Jesus at a place called The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem, you would have noticed that the place where His body was laid, inside a tomb hewn out of rock, resembles a stone trough. The Bible says that after Jesus’ crucifixion and death, Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus’ body, wrapped it in linen and laid it in a tomb hewn out of a rock. (Mark 15:43–46)
Can you see the similarities? Wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger, baby Jesus would one day be wrapped in linen and laid in a tomb. That was the sign the angel was referring to. It pointed to Jesus’ death.
Jesus was the only child in all of humanity born to die. Once you realize that, you will realize how much God loves you. You will realize that He gave up His Son for that one purpose, and that His Son willingly came for that one purpose — to die for your sins and mine.
Beloved, can you imagine living your life knowing that you are just qualifying yourself to die on the cross to save the world? That was the life that Jesus lived. He lived to die, so that we might live and enjoy life abundantly today!