As I wrote in my last post, I recently played Mary in our Sunday School Christmas program and doing so has given me much to think about. And today my thoughts revolve around the idea of a baby born to die. At Christmas time that can be a phrase we hear quite often, but do we really listen and more than that do we take the time to stop and think about the significance of those 5 words?
I have and I suppose you have to, but as I sat on the stage looking at my newborn son wrapped in swaddling cloths, the words were more alive. Anyone who's had a child can recall the emotion that overflows as you hold your baby for the first time - there's the overwhelming feelings, the awe at what took place, dreams for the future, really it's more than words can describe. I'm sure the same and more was true for Mary as she gazed at the Son God had given her...not only was she looking at Jesus her first born, but she saw the face of God!
Honestly I have to say this experience was the first time ever where I was on stage and totally unaware of the audience looking at me. (If you know me that says alot!!) But really I was consumed with being in Mary's shoes and still I'm amazed when I reflect on it all.
The impact of the experience doesn't end there though. When the service was done, a gentleman from the congregation asked me, "Do you know the significance of swaddling cloths?" The mom in me internally thought yes, they keep the baby warm and wrap them tight to ease the little one's transition. But he continued on, "Swaddling cloths were what they used for burial. He was born to die." That I knew, but I hadn't heard of that connection before so I looked into it a bit more.
In my research I came across this explanation, "In the Middle East, people traveling long distances were often met with many hardships and trials on their journeys. In the event of a death in travel, the body could not continue to be transported for many days. For that reason, travelers wrapped a thin, gauzelike cloth around their waist many times. If someone died on the journey, the others would use this cloth, referred to as "swaddling clothes" to wrap the corpse in before burying them. When Jesus was born, there was no room in the Inn, and so Mary and Joseph used a nearby stable for Jesus' birth. With no other cloth to use, Jesus was wrapped in Joseph's "swaddling clothes" - the cloth normally reserved for a person's death."
From the beginning Jesus was preparing to die. Now when my mind flashbacks and I see myself holding my little Jed, that can be hard concept to think about, but in life that is a reality. Thankfully chances are my son will not be called to the same death as Mary's, but just like Jesus, Jed's life on this earth will not last forever. And neither will mine...or yours.
Which brings me to another way to apply those 5 powerful words - Christ was born to die for my sins and because of that I am called to die to myself and live for Him. (Matthew 10:38-40). And as a mother I'm called to teach my son about His ways so someday he will do the same because when we die to self we live with Him and that is a birth that has no end!!