“She gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger.” (Luke 2: 7)
Pilate “Granted the body to Joseph. And he bought a linen shroud and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb.” “Mark
In these two passages I saw recently as I had never seen before just how fully Jesus had shared in our humanity. He came as we all did from his mother’s womb, helpless and dependent, was lovingly and warmly wrapped and laid in his crude cradle, the manger. And at the end a lifeless body was lifted from the cross, tenderly wrapped in a linen shroud and consigned to a tomb. In these two, and between the two, birth and the grave, he entered into the total experience of our humanness with all its emotions, temptations, tensions. As Charles Wesley has it:
“Let earth & heaven combine,
Angels & men agree,
To praise in songs divine
The incarnate Deity
Our God contracted to a span,
Incomprehensibly made man.
He laid His glory by,
He wrapped Him in our clay.
Unmarked by human eye,
The latent Godhead lay;
Infant of days He here became,
And bore the mild Immanuel’s name.”
Praise God, the tomb was not the end, but “He was designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead.” (Romans 1:4)
And the suffering of death was “So that by the grace of God he might taste death for every one.” (Hebrews 2:9b) And through that death was that “He might destroy him who has the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.”
Such is some of the meaning of the incarnation we celebrate at this time.