Malankara World

General Articles and Essays

The Sign of the Swaddling Clothes

by Bill Randles

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:6-7)

At the beginning of Luke’s gospel, Joseph and Mary are together in an enclosed place, wrapping Jesus tightly in cloth strips, laying him out on a table/manger.

An almost identical scene plays itself almost at the end of Luke’s gospel. True its a different Joseph in the second instance, but the scene repeats, Joseph and Mary are in a tomb, Jesus is laid out on a table, and this time Joseph wraps Jesus’ body in strips of cloth for burial. And Mary is there.

And he (Joseph) took it (The Body of Jesus) down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulcher that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. And that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on. And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulcher, and how his body was laid. (Luke 23:53-56)

Everything in scripture is meaningful, all is the Word of God. What is it that God is saying in this double binding of Jesus?

I believe it is a statement that Jesus, who is the eternal God, allowed himself for thirty-three years to be bound by men, that He whose power is limitless, could save us from our sin. This is real Power, power restrained voluntarily, even hidden, that we might be saved.

God entered into limitation, “he emptied himself” as Paul said in Philippians 2. The ancient psalmist cried out “Bind the sacrifice with cords to the altar”! Sampson once put forth his hands to his brethren, the men of Judah, and allowed them to bind him, and lead him as a captive, to the Philistines where he won one of his greatest victories.

Power restrained, hidden glory, power revealed in apparent weakness, this is the gospel A sign was given to the Shepherds by the Heavenly hosts, but not one that anyone would associate with raw power or heavenly mystery,

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, 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 suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2;10-14)

Our God bound himself, he allowed himself to be bound by men, that men might be free of sin! We can only join those who have given us our beloved Christmas Carols, in singing-

“Highest, most holy,
Light of light eternal,
Born of a virgin,
A mortal he comes;

Son of the Father
Now in flesh appearing!

Oh, come, let us adore him,
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Christ the Lord!


See Also:

A Woman And An Angel
Comparison between St. Mary and Eve.

Reality of Christmas Today
As the clock strikes midnight, everyone gathers around the Christmas tree to celebrate the holiday with joyful greetings and gifts. Time passes away swiftly with all the excitement. And once everyone is in bed, a few hours later, the alarm sounds. It’s time to go to church for Christmas service in the early morning. Why go? What happens anyway?

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