Any woman who has ever been “great with child” can certainly relate to the discomfort Mary would have experienced making the difficult 80-mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem so late in her pregnancy. Such a small town bursting to overcapacity from the mandated census made finding peaceful accommodations all the more challenging. Since the trip was exhausting and there was “no room for them in the inn,” Mary and Joseph bedded down in an area where animals were kept. It was good just to get off their feet.
And while they were there – at just the right time – in the fullness of time, Mary gave birth to her firstborn son, wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger. Fitting, a common feeding trough became a cradle for the Bread of Life. By all appearances, His was an extraordinarily ordinary birth.
Along with a chorus of animals and the percussion of a crowded village, the cries of a newborn baby harmonized the night’s song. The One who had spoken all things into existence by the power of His Word – the Word made flesh, now as Mary’s little lamb, is reduced to the simplest form of human speech.
Shepherds, keeping watch over their sheep in nearby fields, were the first to receive the Good Shepherd’s birth announcement. Heaven’s joy simply could not be contained and spilled out across the skies. For suddenly, the shepherds were surrounded by the glory of the Lord as multitudes of the heavenly host began praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will to men” (Luke 2:13-14).
The angels sang at the dawn of creation and now they sing at the dawn of redeeming grace! Oh, the majesty of such praise! For on that not so silent night, the King of Kings lovingly set aside His royal crown, clothed His glory with flesh and made His throne a bed of hay.
Jesus. God with us. His was no ordinary birth. Let heaven and nature sing!
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem.”
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King!”
“For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all nations…” Luke 2:30 NIV