Summary: If you were God wouldn’t you provide a special place for your son to be born? So why a stable?
The Mystery of the Stable
Everybody loves a good mystery and the Christmas story if full of mysteries, full of whys and hows and whos. If you’ve been with us over the past few weeks you know the theme we have chosen for this advent season is “The Mysteries of Christmas”
We started with the Virgin birth. One of the main stays of orthodox Christianity. The Apostle’s Creed reminds us when we recite “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.”
But there are folks, including those who profess to follow Jesus who either dispute the virgin birth or ignore it. But it is the very essence of who Jesus was, he was not the son of a man and a woman like we are, he was and is the son of God and as such he wasn’t born in the usual way but had a wonderful marvellous birth and conception where his Father stepped outside of the very rules that he put in place, where two cells become one and then become two again. And he started with just one cell. Not because the act of sex and reproduction is dirty or sinful but simply because it is ordinary and here we are talking about the conception of the Son of God and that isn’t ordinary. And besides God couldn’t be Jesus’ father if Joseph was Jesus’ father.
And that is why we are told by the prophet Isaiah 7:14 All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).
And then the next week we looked at the journey that Mary and Joseph made from Nazareth, a small town south west of the Sea of Galilee, to Bethlehem a village situated just outside of Jerusalem, a journey of 120 kms. Not a long journey today in comfortable cars on nice roads but for Joseph it would have been a trip that would have taken at least four days and more likely a week, on foot or by best case by donkey, while accompanying his wife who was about to give birth or as some versions of the Christmas story reminds us, was great with child. And we discovered that the answer to that Mystery could be discovered in the past and in the present.
The reason was connected to the past because the Old Testament contained prophecies saying that not only would the Messiah be born of the line of King David but that he would be born at the birthplace of King David. Micah 5:2 But you, O Bethlehem, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past.
Why were all these prophecies put in place, as a check system so the people of Israel would know that the Messiah was indeed the Messiah. Born of a virgin, check, born in Bethlehem, check and so on.
But the answer was not only in the past but it could also be found in their present, we know the story how the Roman Government decreed that a census would be taken and everyone would return to their ancestral home, in Joseph’s case that was Bethlehem. So it wasn’t a matter that they wanted to make the trip they had to make the trip.
And we all know what happened next, we sing about we see it in pageants and Christmas Cards, we all know the story. (Born in a barn video)
This is what the Bible records Luke 2:6-7 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 room for them in the village inn.
It is interesting that this verse tells us that Mary gave birth to her first child, not her only child but her first child. Seldom do we stop and think about it but Jesus grew up with siblings; the scriptures tell us that he had brothers and sisters. But I digress, back to story.
This morning we are looking at: The Mystery of the Stable. I mean face it, if you were God, master of all things, creator of the universe and all that exists where would you want your child born? A beautiful home? A Palace? A nice hotel? How about a barn? No, probably not a barn. But that was it, the word of God doesn’t actually tell us that he was born in a barn, or even a stable but it does say that they laid him in a manger. Because most of us are city folks we aren’t familiar with the term manger, other than at Christmas time or when we spell manager wrong. As a matter of fact I grew up around horses and barns and I don’t think I ever used the term manger. But because of the Christmas story we all know what a manger is.