I love Christmas cards. They’re little portraits of the beauty of the season. Gift-wrapped snap-shots of friends and family. I was thinking of this as I re-read the story of that first Christmas. God wove so many beautiful images into that story. There is, of course, Mary the virgin. This fulfills the prophecy of…
Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Emmanuel.”
Next we have Bethlehem, the birthplace. Again, prophecy is fulfilled.
Micah 5:2, “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.”
Bethlehem was the prophetic place of the Messiah’s birth. Why is that? What’s so great about Bethlehem? Look at the name itself. In Hebrew Beth means house. Lahem means bread. Bethlehem literally means, the “House of bread.” Jesus said, “I am the bread of life which comes down from the father.” Isn’t it interesting that the bread of life would be born in the house of bread? Bethlehem was David’s home. Again, Prophecy fulfilled. The Bible says that the Messiah would come through David’s lineage. Both of Jesus’ earthly parents, – Joseph and Mary – trace their lineage back to David. Jesus was a direct descendant of David. Born in Bethlehem. Here is another symbol: The first people to arrive on the scene were Shepherds. Why shepherds? David was a shepherd, yes, but so is God.
Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
Also, Remember Matthew 2:6:
“For out of you shall come forth a ruler, who will shepherd my people Israel.”
Shepherds came to remind us that this new king would be a shepherd. So many powerful spiritual portraits were painted by God that night, but none as powerful as the stable itself. Jesus was born in a stable! Think of that. God himself is booking his ticket to Earth. He could have arranged for his stay to take on any shape he wanted! He could have put himself up at the Ritz Carlton no problem. But he didn’t. He booked infant accommodations at an unassuming stable. Why a stable, a place where you keep the livestock? What’s that mean? Simply this: Where else would the lamb of God be born? Mary brought forth her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in the manger. The lamb of God, Mary’s little lamb was born in a stable. And one day he would become the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world. To me, that’s a beautiful portrait of God’s love.