Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC
Friday, December 24
By Barry Christmas, Congregational Care Committee
Behold the Lamb of God
Read Luke: 2:6-20; Micah 4:8 (NIV)
Where exactly in Bethlehem was the Christ child born, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger? There was no room in the inn, and it is thought that the innkeeper most likely directed them to a cave where the animals were being lodged for the night. Where else might you find a manger, which is a feeding trough for animals? Let’s explore an interesting possibility …
After an arduous journey of about 70 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem, Mary would have been very tired and uncomfortable. She would most likely be having twinges of labor pain by the time they reached their destination. Surely Joseph would have been looking for a quiet, private location for Mary to rest for the night, and possibly give birth. If such a place could be found, why resort to lodging in a crowded stable?
At this time, there existed a watchtower just outside of Bethlehem called Migdal Eder, known as the “Tower of the Flock.” Animals subject to be chosen by the temple priests for sacrifice were kept and tended in the fields surrounding this location, and if found spotless and without blemish (a strict requirement), were eventually taken to the temple in Jerusalem. The tower was a stone structure where the Levitical shepherds brought the ewes to deliver their lambs, and was well known for housing newborn lambs and protecting them from predators. Each newborn lamb was placed in a stone manger, inspected for any blemishes, and if found to be spotless, was wrapped in strips of swaddling cloth to keep the lamb clean and protect it from harm.
What could be a more fitting location for the birth and lodging of the “Lamb of God”? He who would one day become God’s perfect, without blemish, Sacrificial Lamb and shed his blood for the redemption of our sins? Even the announcement of his birth by the angel is already foreshadowing his sacrifice: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you, ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And consider the words spoken by John the Baptist when he first beheld his cousin, Jesus: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
The shepherds in the fields, tending their flocks that night, would have been very familiar with Migdal Eder, and quite possibly were the special Levitical shepherds to the unblemished lambs of the temple. After being visited by the angel who announced Jesus’ birth, they would have known exactly where to find the Tower of the Flock to behold the newborn Lamb of God, wrapped in swaddling cloth and lying in a manger.
Dear Heavenly Father, This Christmas we pray that we might have eyes to see your perfect Lamb and ears to hear “Good Tidings of Great Joy” upon His arrival. Amen.