God in a straightjacket

Ally Ashwell dressed herself in a bumble bee costume for her friend’s pre-wedding party. While touring the pubs in Blackpool she began to feel unwell and returned to her hotel. A few minutes later unaware she was pregnant Ally went into labour. The contractions happened so fast she gave birth to a baby while alone in her room.

A spokesman for Blackpool Victoria Hospital told BBC News

“It’s very unusual for a baby to be born in this situation”

Children can be born in unusual circumstances.

I’ve read another story about a pregnant Chinese lady who journeyed on a bus in icy weather. The bus encountered difficulties on a road in South China and was stranded in the deep snow. Passengers were trapped for three days. During this time the lady went into labour and gave birth to a baby boy. She named her son, ‘Zhongsheng’. A name which means ‘Born in a Crowd’

Other children too have been born in unusual circumstances. History’s most notable exceptional birth is that of Jesus Christ.

Mary became pregnant through the Holy Spirit and she remained a virgin until after Jesus was born. Luke 1:26-38. Mathew 1:18-25. This is a highly unusual circumstance which will never happen again.

Our Lord’s birth was predicted 720 years before Mary went into labour. The prophet Isaiah foretold that,

 ‘the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel’. Isiah 7:14

The name Emanuel means ‘God with us’.

The cattle shed was not a suitable place for hosting the birth of God’s Son.

Jesus is worthy of a birth in the holiest of temples or the most, kingly of palaces. But surprisingly the maternity unit for our Lord was a mucky, murky, manger.

It’s very unusual for God’s Son to be born in this situation.

The Virgin Birth, Messianic predictions and the manger  surprised everyone. But not the angels of heaven.

Celestial beings are familiar with the power of the Holy Spirit. They’ve seen God work marvellously through eternity. Angels were present when God created the earth Job 38:4-7. They saw God establish the human race from just one man. Angels are intimate with God’s power. They marvel at God’s ability but they are not surprised by it because they’ve seen the great things which God can do.

However, on Christmas Day the angelic world witnessed something that defied their celestial comprehension. Visiting the shepherds in the field an angel declared,

“this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”  Luke 2:125374d3d7191f5.image

Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger was a bigger shock to the angels than the infamous fall of Satan.

 Swaddle was the technical term for snugly wrapping up a child. In ancient times babies were placed diagonally onto a piece of square cloth. Two corners of the cloth were turned across the baby’s body. One corner of the cloth was placed across the feet. The other part of the cloth was put under the baby’s head. The whole cloth was then fastened by bandages and coiled around the exterior.

These swaddling clothes were designed to restrict the movement of a child’s limbs. A swaddled baby couldn’t stretch out his arm and burn his hand in a fire. Swaddled babies couldn’t sneakily crawl out of the house onto the dangerous Judean streets to be hit by speeding chariots.

Swaddling clothes ensured that the infant remained where it was placed. The swaddling restricted the baby’s movements. A swaddled child was in a humble dependent position. The swaddled infant needed to be nurtured and protected.

No angel in eternity had ever seen God restricted in a humble dependent position before. Angels always saw God in His omnipotent glory. They saw God constantly reining from His kingly throne, ruling and creating, receiving worship and controlling all things. But on Christmas Day there was a radical position change. God being God was still in charge. But God was no longer seated in the highest place for the angels to observe and worship. God descended into our world as a vulnerable child. The pre-incarnate Jesus vested with all the attributes of divinity. Infinitely powerful, infinitely great,

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form’ Colossians 1:9.

On Christmas Day all this divine glory was veiled in flesh. God in human form lay bound and dependent. Omnipotence in a straightjacket. The self-sufficient Supreme Power of the universe was now a God, who needed to be nurtured and protected. Self-imposed limitations. Nevertheless, what a shocker for the angels.

‘It’s been fittingly said, God could not make himself any bigger to impress us, so he made himself smaller to attract us’.

God’s presence is truly with us. His Holy Spirit dwells in the hearts of His people. Christmas is a sure sign that God is here. Bible commentator William Hendricksen said,

‘No one will ever be able to fathom the riches of this grace whereby God, by means of Emmanuel, has come to dwell with sinners.

It means that in Christ, God came to dwell,

with the sick, to heal them (Mathew 4:23)

with the demon possessed to liberate them (Mathew 4:24)

with the poor in spirit to bless them (Mathew 5:1-12)

with the care ridden to rid them of care (Mathew 6:25-24)

with the censorious to warn them (Mathew 7:1-3)

with the lepers, to cleanse them (Mathew 8:1-4)

with the diseased, to cure them (Mathew 8:1-17)

with the hungry to feed them (Mathew 14:13-21.15:32-39)

with the less abled, to restore them (Mathew 12:13;15-31)

and over reaching everything else,

with the lost, to seek and save them (Mathew 18:11)’

God entered our world as a child because He wants us to enter His world as a child. May you by faith find the peace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ this Christmas.

Bible Blogger

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