I am a terrible gift wrapper. My philosophy is why go to great lengths to wrap something when it is going to be ripped to shreds anyway? But some people are great gift wrappers, using the fanciest of paper and ribbons. I say throw it in a gift bag and be done with it. But most men are probably like that. To most men, wrapping a present is like garnishing a steak – who cares, just give us the meat! In college one Christmas I worked in the mall wrapping presents for some extra money. People were very particular in how they wanted their gift wrapped, especially when they were paying extra for it. That special gift purchased for a loved one was being displayed so they desired it to be wrapped well. Have you ever thought about the way Jesus was wrapped at Christmas? Luke 2:12 says, “And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
God gave us the greatest gift of all – Jesus (John 3:16, Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9). He didn’t come in a flashy or elaborate wrapping but in simple strips of cloths. In fact, everything surrounding the birth of Christ was simple. He was born in a small cave where animals lived. What a smelly night that was! Jesus was laid in feeding trough or manger. Who would have ever thought the Savior of the world would be displayed in that kind of environment? Surely He deserved a palace and the best of nursery amenities. His surroundings should be that of satin and gold not rags and hay. We wouldn’t want our kids to be born in such an unsanitary environment much less the King of Kings! Jesus came humbly to this world, born to ordinary people in an ordinary place. But Jesus was no ordinary man. He was the God man. Mathew 1:21 says, “She (Mary) will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save his people from their sins.”
Some say the strips of cloth Jesus was wrapped in were like the burial cloths used in that day and on Jesus Himself (John 19:40; 20:7). Think about the significance of that. Jesus was born to die. In fact the Magi brought Jesus Myrrh, a common embalming substance which was used on Jesus at His death as well (John 19:39). Myrrh was a terrible baby shower gift! It’s like giving someone a burial plot for a baby shower. But again, Jesus’ purpose was being born to die for our sins. Other theologians point out the significance of the swaddling cloth sign to the shepherds. Jewish shepherds would understand seeing Jesus in swaddling cloths and relate it to how they took the firstborn from their flocks for the sin offering. To ensure the newborn lamb would be perfect and without blemish, shepherds would swaddle it in cloths and usually lay them in a safe place such as a manger. He was the sacrificial Lamb (John 1:29, 36). Another great significance of the cloths were they also pointed out His humanity. A baby needed to be swaddled to be kept warm and secure. A baby needed cloths for diapers. He was fully God yet fully man (John 1:1; 14). But these cloths weren’t too common in that day as most babies didn’t use diapers. They were reserved for royalty. Think about it – a baby in a cave, laid in a manger, surrounded by animals yet wrapped in royal diapers and grave clothes as the Sacrificial Lamb for the sins of the world.
Jesus came to earth so we could go to heaven. He was laid in a manger so we could live in a mansion (John 14:1-6). 2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” He came humbly, not in pomp and circumstance, born of an average virgin teenager. He wasn’t laid on gold and satin but wood and hay. He wasn’t “too good” for this world yet the world didn’t deserve such a King. “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).