“And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12, ESV
We hear this phrase read every year at Christmas, and often don’t think much about it. Why were swaddling clothes the sign the shepherds were given by the angel in the field that day? What was so significant about strips of cloth? I discovered something interesting the other day. The shepherds in the passage above were Levitical shepherds, meaning that they raised sheep to be used for Passover. These lambs had to be without blemish, and they were often wrapped in swaddling clothes to protect them. So when this sign was given to the shepherds, they were told that they would find the Messiah in the same place that the Passover Lamb would have been, showing that Jesus is the ultimate Perfect Sacrifice for the sins of the world.
In Jewish culture, swaddling clothes were used on newborns to bind them tightly so they couldn’t move around, as they were used to being in tight quarters in the womb. Isn’t it amazing that Jesus was not only found in a manger, but that He was bound tightly, so that He was helpless? Then, many years later, He was placed in a tomb, bound again in strips of cloth, yet rising victorious, conquering sin and death forever (2 Tim 1:10).
So this Christmas, reflect on the precious gift that Jesus is to us. He is the Passover Lamb, the Perfect Sacrifice for sin. He is the Bread of Life, the sustenance that completely satisfies. He is the Light of the World, and He is the Word of God, made flesh, given for us.