“And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12
This whole scene must’ve only taken moments to complete, but who could believe what was happening before their very eyes? Who could trust what they were seeing? Their minds were sure to play tricks on them, and they were sure to talk themselves out of it, believing they had a crazy dream.
But God gave them a sign. He invited them to test the word and see if it was real. Of course, they did and found everything just as they were told. Then they became eye-witnesses to the event. They told everyone what they had seen and heard.
Once you and I hear the Good News, we test it out and discover it’s true, then we can’t help but become like the shepherds, like the woman at the well, like the delivered demoniac, the Apostles, and so forth. The spread of the Good News rests upon us. And the ones who are still lost, lonely, and wandering are depending on our eyewitness account.
There is one other part of this verse that is intriguing to me. We are told in the verse that the sign or the evidence of what the angel was saying was true, was that they would find Jesus wrapped in swaddling cloths. It’s a curious detail. Why is seeing the Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths important?
I’ve read several explanations, but the one I like the most is that the strips of cloth were the old linen garments worn by the priests in the temple. They were given to the shepherds to use after the lambs were born. I read that sheep are very helpless animals, and during lambing season, which is in the spring months, the shepherds assist the ewes through the birthing process and afterward, they help clean the newborns.
Given the fact that Bethlehem was the birthplace for the Passover lambs the symbolism regarding Jesus’ birth is powerful.
Consider the connections. Jesus was the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world, and He was also the high priest in the order of Melchizedek. He was born in a stable in Bethlehem and placed in a feeding trough after being wrapped in old priestly garments.
I love the possibility these details hold. God pays attention to details, even the subtle ones that aren’t obvious.
No matter which theory may actually be correct isn’t as important as the fact that Jesus was born. He came as God made flesh. He dwelt among us. And the shepherds were representatives for every man, woman, and child to come. Our God is the personal God and even the details of what He was wrapped in after birth point to His true identity and His qualification to represent us as the sacrificial Lamb of God.