“Why are you wrapping presents in late November?” Thanksgiving was over and Christmas was approaching. I had put the tree up and my wife was getting ready to decorate it.
Gina quickly responded, “Because that will keep you from ruining your surprise by snooping around, looking where you shouldn’t be looking!”
I get it. But, men turn into boys at Christmas. We pick up presents and shake them before it’s time. At least I do. We want the goods without the wrapping paper.
However, the best gifts or treasures are hidden. The discovery makes them more special.
Luke tells us that one night angels appeared to shepherds and they were told how to find a special gift, who would ultimately be their Savior, their Messiah.
“And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth….” (2:12a, NLT)
Why was baby Jesus wrapped in strips of cloth? If you read and study the Bible, you’ve got to ask questions. Otherwise, its deeper meaning remains hidden. Rabbi Jason Sobel provides some interesting background from the Rock, the Road, and the Rabbi:
“These shepherds were responsible for making sure that the new-born lambs did not contract defects, for only animals without spot or blemish could be used as a sacrifice in the temple. Baby lambs are very clumsy when they are born, so many scholars believe that these shepherds would swaddle their newborn lambs in order to prevent these future sacrificial lambs from becoming blemished by injuring themselves on jagged parts of the cave.”
Okay, that makes sense, but why were shepherds in a cave with lambs?
“When it was time for one of their flock to give birth, the shepherds would bring the sheep into one of the caves surrounding Bethlehem that were used for this purpose. These birthing caves were kept in a state of ritual purity since these lambs were destined to be used as sacrifices in the temple. In fact, many of the male lambs born around Bethlehem would be used for the Passover. Since there was no room in the local inn, Mary and Joseph used one of these caves around Bethlehem. Messiah was not born in a stable behind some Econo Lodge or Motel Six. He was born in one of the many caves used for birthing these sacrificial lambs, because He Himself would be the ultimate sacrificial Lamb.”
Wow. No words. Wonder. Awe. Worship. Jesus was and is the Christmas Lamb. Perfect Lamb of God. No blemish. No sin, but did He take on mine and yours? Yes. A resounding Yes!
Don’t say God never gave you anything. This is His greatest gift. You can’t make this stuff up! Have you accepted the gift of Jesus? If you have, what are you doing with the Christmas Lamb? God wants you to give Jesus away because He is the only sacrifice for those who believe. Give the Christ of Christmas. The present is already wrapped.
pictures courtesy of “Nelson & his Nikon”