Luke 2:6-7 “While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”
The picture of Jesus born in a stable with cattle lowing all around and the star above, is cute and pretty but probably a long way removed from reality. We’re not told he was born in a stable, that idea comes from the fact that he was laid in a manger – no more than a trough that cattle eat from. So there may have been livestock present, but perhaps not the clean, neat and gentle ones we see in the nativities.
And most likely the room was one located in the lower parts of the house, with normal living quarters above. And it doesn’t say there wasn’t any room, it says there was no guest room available – perhaps the animal stall below was all they could afford for lodgings.
It might sound trivial to contest these small details, but the quaint picture painted each Christmas of the circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus, mask the lowliness of His arrival. The birth of Jesus is not meant to be quaint and picture perfect, it’s meant to be low, and poor, and mean and rude.
But why? Well because His birth was designed to be a pointer to His purpose. Afterall this was God making Himself nothing; becoming like a man. The manner of His birth was the manner of His life and significantly it was the manner of His death! His birth was with the animals, His life was scorn and ignomany; His death a cursed criminal’s cross.
The birth is not meant to be a kingly one, He had already left His kingdom, now He was going to get dirty and be stripped naked in the heat of battle; He was going to fight a cosmic turf war with the devil, and the world; with sin and with death in order to overcome the enemies of His people and to ransom them with His own blood.
If we prettify His birth, we will fail to appreciate His condescension and we will minimise the worth and magnitude of His work of redemption. Thank God this Christmas for the low birth of Jesus, without it there would be no noble adoption for His people!