(with special thanks to Ian Rossol & Brian Simmons (Passion Translation))
‘ AND THIS WILL BE A SIGN FOR YOU, you will find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’
Most of us have all heard the story of Christmas so many times, perhaps we have become too familiar, its easy to do. I must confess to being guilty of that, checking off the story mentally at the carol services which I love to attend.
But this week I was shaken from my familiarity by my friend Ian Rossol. At a beautiful Thameside pub in Oxfordshire he dropped one of those beautiful revelations, a game changer.
He started to tell me how he has been reading the Passion Translation of the Christmas story, footnotes included! We shared our admiration for the footnotes and the work done by Brian Simmons. Yes the footnotes are so illuminating. And so straight from lunch I reread the story of how the shepherds found Jesus.
The verse which I had always viewed as a description of what the shepherds would find is a hidden gem, a miracle, a prophetic declaration that could be seen. The shepherds were probably the shepherds who raised the passover and other sacrificial lambs. Lambs without spot or blemish. They would be born and then wrapped in discarded pieces of garments, possibly priests clothes and laid in a manger to protect them from harm and being bruised or blemished.
Jesus lying in a manger wasn’t just a description of the place, it was prophetic. O the detail of this story. I had always merely heard a description, a clue, but I had never seen the incredible significance of this to those shepherds. It really was a sign, a miracle sign, a confirmation.
And so the account by Luke reveals a depth I had never seen before. Only the shepherds would have had this perspective, they alone would have seen with their eyes and with their unique knowledge that this baby was no ordinary baby, his first bed was not out of necessity or a last resort but the perfectly worked out plan for a baby who would be the last passover lamb required.
Luke 2:18. “And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.” No wonder! They knew what they had seen and they had to see it first so that they could explain the full meaning!
My phrase he wastes nothing, he gets you ready applies to these shepherds. Their life’s work, the mundane, the routine would prepare them to see the miracle, prophecy fulfilling baby lying, wrapped just as those passover lambs would be in the days and weeks which lay ahead. No wonder the shepherds worshipped!