The Bible describes a place where animals were kept as the birthplace of Jesus, God’s son, who was the long-awaited messiah. Though a stable seems like a strange place for the birth of a king, this humble beginning marks a turning point in human history.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.Luke 2:4-7
In this short passage from the gospel of Luke we don’t get the complete picture of the events leading up to Jesus’ birth. Think about the trek from Bethlehem to Nazareth. Mary most likely walked the 100 miles from the tiny village in the northern part of Israel to another small town near the capital city of Jerusalem. She and Joseph most likely traveled in a caravan of others heading to their ancestral homes in the south to register for a census decreed by Caesar Augustus. Since Jews avoided contact with Samaritans, (those who lived between Nazareth and Bethlehem) they would have traveled on a route that followed the Jordan River east of Samaria. The one-to two-week, 100-mile journey, brought them to the small village of Bethlehem six miles south of the temple in Jerusalem.
There, like most of their fellow travelers, they would have sought lodging with relatives. The Bible tells us there was no room for them in the guest room, (mistranslated “inn”) that would have been on the upper level of the house where people slept, so they likely bedded down in the general living area on the first floor. A common practice then (and in some parts of the world today) was to bring animals inside at night to protect them from cold, thieves and other dangers. That may be why Mary, after delivering her baby, lay him in a feeding trough (manager), that then served as Jesus’ bassinet.
Of greater importance than the location of the stable is understanding why Jesus would be born in such lowly circumstances. Jesus was with God when the universe was created. He was the instrument of creation of everything, including mankind, with whom he wanted to have a relationship, and on whom he could bestow his love and affection. However, man abused that relationship and rebelled. In the process, all mankind became lost to God’s companionship and His love. God never stopped loving man, and prescribed a system of sacrifice by which man could atone for his rebellion, generally known as sin. The blood of an unblemished lamb was let each year for the forgiveness of sin, but it was a temporary measure that had to be performed annually, forever.
Jesus, the creator of the universe, came to earth to take the place of the lamb, shedding his blood once for all time. How better for Him to become the perfect sacrifice than to be born in the lowliest of conditions taking the place of the unblemished lamb. God loved us so much that he sent Jesus in total humility to provide a pathway for the restoration of our relationship with Him.
If you have not yet entered into a restored relationship with your creator, we encourage you to consider what it means to become a follower of Christ and read our post, How does one become a Christian?