Home Christmas The Reality of Christ’s Birth

The Reality of Christ’s Birth

by Kelly Crawford

Our Christmas cards and nativity scenes portray peaceful, lazy animals, glowing faces and cozy, pretty surroundings.

The truth probably is that the barn was nasty, the stench of manure strong and nauseating, and Mary, exhausted from giving birth without a midwife or one experienced woman at her side, was no doubt terrified and disappointed all at once at her surroundings–this is not what she had pictured–with a bewildered Joseph at her side.

Nevertheless, this couple was no doubt sturdier than we are today, and more grateful for their meager provisions than we are at our abundance.

And what’s more…far more…is that they knew they were sharing this crude shelter with the very Son of God.

I wonder if they understood the implications, or that his life would be cut short, by a parents’ measure, or that he would be hated–can’t every mother imagine the heartache of a son who constantly endures scorn?

Jesus wasn’t born into a quiet, peaceful scene; he was born into a battlefield, where just hours later, his father would receive news that King Herod was seeking to kill him–this precious, infant son, and would massacre thousands of others in his attempt.

“The Word became flesh” and that Word would be a “sword cutting between soul and spirit…exposing our innermost thoughts and desires” and those not called of the Father would hate it–would hate Him, Jesus, the Living Word.

That divine night changed the world forever. No more could sin dominate us because the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent, and death would lose its sting and victory. The act of a holy God stooping to our brokenness and messiness and making a way to lift us up to Him, to make his enemies–“children of wrath” his adopted sons–can we ever thank Him enough?

Perhaps the pristine stable looks nice, but we should rather remember just how lowly the King of Kings made his entrance. This too, God’s sovereignty, to show us how much he delights to exalt the lowly. Christmas–the ultimate rescue mission to save the lost and heal the broken.

Can we ponder it long enough and grasp the reality of what the Incarnation really means to us? If we really understood it would we possibly even live differently? With more gratitude and less anxiety? With more forgiveness and less wanting our way?

Whatever heartache or tragedy we face, we can be of good cheer; He has overcome the world.


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laura December 24, 2012 - 8:55 pm

I’ve given birth unassisted and grew up on a farm. I am sure that the atmosphere was MUCH more pleasant than nurses poking and prodding and and nagging. They say women who birth unassisted have very little to no pain. When a women gives birth infront of everyone, her uterus turns white and pain increases. God knows what hes doing.

Jennifer December 24, 2012 - 9:49 pm

Better women than men. If fewer people are around, I’m sure it’s less bad, but birth has also been proven in many cases to be very dangerous without medical help.

JEnnifer in PA December 25, 2012 - 11:05 am

Excellent thoughts. Thanks for sharing. Douglas Wilson, a pastor in Idaho, says Herod’s soldiers should be part of the manager scene to remind us of the evil world Christ was born into. (BTW, I doubt it was hours after that Joseph heard about Herod’s soldiers. The wise men actually came to JEsus was he was about 18-24 months old. I think they had some time to enjoy their baby, albeit in very humble circumstances before the angel appeared to Joseph and told them to go to Egypt.)

LuAnne December 25, 2012 - 4:46 pm

That He would choose to come into the world in that place (and the reality of it should not escape us…perhaps those of us with barns and animals ourselves can more readily appreciate it, but all of us can picture the scene as it truly was) – that choice itself tells us something about the enormity of His love. “Born into poverty’s embrace, new life for the world” is one line of a favorite hymn of mine. And He chose that. Unbelievable!

Mrs. B December 25, 2012 - 7:02 pm

Wonderful, Kelly!!
I thought it appropriate to share your thoughts with my older children. Good food for thought.

Carolina December 25, 2012 - 8:22 pm

Kelly, I heard a pastor preaching about the stable one time and he said that there is a missunderstanding here because of a bad translation of the Greek word “kataluma”, what does not mean inn but higher room. What Luke says is literally that there was no room for them in the higher room, where other elderly guests where already, so they had to sleep in the lower part of the room, that was also used for animals.
Mary and Joseph did probably not need to go to an inn because they both had relatives in Bethlehem. The word for inn that is used in the good samaritan parable is not the one used here, but “kataluma”, that does not mean inn at all. Mary was probably not alone giving birth either, but assisted by other women from the family. I guess in those days assiting in deliveries was an art that many women knew, since women had their children at home.
After explaining this, the pastor said: I am sorry if I have ruined your Christmas story now! But it makes sense. I can read the Greek alphabet and I checked the words he said and he is right.
Here is the pastor, a presbyterian, with a ministry about how to reach out to Muslims.


Hayley Ferguson December 26, 2012 - 9:53 am

Hi Kelly,

I tend to agree both with Laura and Carolina. I have birthed 8 out of 10 of our children at home medically unassisted (husband is my midwife “with woman”.) My last experience (in May) in the hospital was fairly horrible in comparison to at home (not really sure I should have gone actually) a lot more pain. This is just my experience and I don’t have anything against using the hospital if that makes you more comfortable…it’s just not for me. I just took a pregnancy test tonight (26/12/12) and it was positive so I’ll be due, Lord Willing; end of August beginning of September 🙂

I have thought about how the “nativity scene” with it’s story mightn’t be quite right, as well. I read that the inn is the inner part of the house (living room etc…) and the manger is an attached part of the house of poorer families who don’t have money/means for a seperate shed/barn. Being that Jesus was born in a warmer part of the year (or shepherds wouldn’t be tending sheep) the manger of possibly Josephs’ families home wasn’t being used and the inner part was full of other family members already? Although Carolina’s explaination sounds perhaps more plausable. Either way I don’t think the Bible mentions being amongst livestock giving birth in an emergency type situation like we’re taught. I would like to restudy this if I find time. We’re trying to move to a rural block to start a farm. The children had a swim in the creek and loved it (I accidentally fell in on purpose lol and loved it too.) It’s funny how we met the probable new neighbours a few months ago. We were taking water samples from the creek (my husband is a chemist) and he decided to pull off the road into a sand bank and got stuck. We were trying to free the bus when the neighbours (the real estate agent just had told us about their house) drove past and offered to help. When we got free we were invited back to their house, they have been a blessing to us and our children had a ball with theirs in the creek. Anyway I went totally off track sorry, we’ve been attempting to do this for years. I hope your family had a lovely holiday time ;-D

Katy December 28, 2012 - 11:29 am

My thought was about my days after delivery? I can’t imagine getting up, gathering up my baby, and traveling a far distance (and we have cars in this day and age). I can’t imagine how hard that was for Mary physically. She wanted to rest, her body was recuperating, she had a brand new baby with brand new baby needs (Jesus needed to nurse, be changed, be held, carried, and tended to like very other baby born since the beginning of time), and now she had to get up and flee in fear of His death.


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