Mysteries of the manger.
“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 2:7).
At this point, let us consider several questions that may be raised concerning those events leading up to the birth of the Savior.
1. Why did Joseph and Mary wait so long before coming to Bethlehem? We know that both believed the angel’s message about the Babe in Mary’s womb, and they doubtless were well aware of the prophecy in Micah 5:2 which stated that Christ was to be born in Bethlehem.
Why did they wait until the last moment to come? In fact, one is somewhat led to believe that had it not been for the decree of Caesar Augustus they might not have come at all. Answer: No satisfactory answer has been found by this author. It is best to conclude that Joseph (man of God that he was) had good reasons for acting in the manner that he did. The reader may desire to explore this further.
2. Why didn’t Mary and Joseph stay with their relatives in Bethlehem? The inns of those days were rather notorious, and Joseph must have been desperate to subject his pregnant wife to the sin and noise of such a place. But, of course, they were denied even this. Answer: it would have been too difficult to explain (or to expect them to understand) the nature of the virgin birth. Every gossip in town doubtless knew by this time that Joseph and Mary had been married only six months, and there she was, expecting a baby at any moment. Was the father Joseph? Did the child belong to some stranger? Thus, to spare his beloved wife all this, Joseph did not call upon their relatives.
3. Why was Jesus born in a place which apparently housed animals? Answer: Because lambs are usually born in barns. This was God’s Lamb.
4. Why did angels appear to the shepherds first? Answer: What other earthly group than shepherds would better understand what God has just accomplished? These were men who raised lambs and later sold
them for sacrificial purposes in the temple. (See John 1:29; 10:11). Note: They would eventually understand that in the past the sheep had died for the shepherd, but soon the Shepherd planned to die for the sheep. (See John 10:11.)
5. Why did God use the angels in the first place? Answer.
a. Because angels are interested in the things of salvation. (See
1 Peter 1:12; Exod. 25:20; Dan. 12:5-6; Luke 15:10; Eph. 3:10.)
b. Because they were present at the creation of this world and shouted for joy (Job 38:7). It is only logical, therefore, that God would allow them to be on hand at the presentation of the Savior of this world.