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Christmas:  What are “swaddling” clothes?

Gary Googe Dec 12

As I guess you know, these “swaddling” clothes are a part of the Christmas story.  Here’s the Bible passage where this is mentioned.

Luke 2:1-12

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

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.

Angels soon visited shepherds, telling them of the birth of the Christ child.  They were then told about how they’d be able to recognize Him.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. [Emphasis added]

What a wonderful story! The manger was a feeding trough for animals.  What a humble beginning for this One who would one day be celebrated as the King of all kings and Lord of all lords.  But what are these swaddling clothes? History tells us they were narrow bands or strips of cloth wrapped around a newborn child to restrain its movements and to quieten it.  When Mary did this, she was following an ancient custom of the day.  The procedure also provided warmth for the body of the infant.  Tradition tells us they believed the tight wrapping of the infant’s body also served to make the child’s bones grow straight.  In appearance it made the wrapped infant appear as a mummy.  One of the apostle Paul’s writings makes some important comments, exhorting us as believers to take on Christ’s thinking concerning all this.

Philippians 2:3-11

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind [having true humility] let each esteem other better than themselves.

Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

He then follows this up with the greatest of all examples of this.  We are to manifest true selflessness in our relationship with others as our Lord has for us.  Here we’ll see the great lengths to which our Lord went to provide a way of salvation for us all.

Who, being in the form of God [having the same essence as God], thought it not robbery to be equal with God [meaning this takes nothing from the essence of God]:

None of this is to be taken to mean that somehow God the Son made Himself less than God by doing this.  Through it all He became and remains to this day undiminished deity and true humanity in one Person.  He truly is the God/man.

But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

All this tells us God’s own Son came to earth in the lowliest of circumstances.  Instead of coming as a pampered, privileged ruler, Jesus was born in a stable.  This should remind us of how accessible, available He is to anyone.

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord [truly God], to the glory of God the Father. [Emphasis added]

It is truly amazing to realize that this child wrapped in these swaddling clothes was none other than the One who would provide a way for the redemption and salvation for all mankind.  Yes, the Almighty Creator reduced Himself to but a child and then a man who would give Himself that we might gain eternal life in such a wonderful place as what Heaven will surely be.

II Corinthians 5:21

21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. [Emphasis added]

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