Birth of Christ
4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to David’s city, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David;
8 There were shepherds in the same country staying in the field, and keeping watch by night over their flock.
5 to enroll himself with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him as wife, being pregnant.
9 Behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
6 While they were there, the day had come for her to give birth.
10 The angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be to all the people.
7.1 She gave birth to her firstborn son.
11 For there is born to you today, in David’s city, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
7.2 She wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a feeding trough,
12 This is the sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a feeding trough.”
7.3 because there was no room for them in the inn.
13 Suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army praising God, 14 and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will toward men.” 15.1 When the angels went away from them into the sky,
15.2 the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem, now, and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”
Room in the Inn: As-a-String
Room in the Inn: As-a-String
To your left (bottom on mobile) are two sequential passages, placed in parallel. I call this a String. Two or more threads (passages) weave together to tell a deeper story. In this case, the Birth of Christ and the Shepherd Story that follows, both in Luke 2. Let’s take a look at the whole String.
Scroll this story with a touch-screen or the scroll-bar on your right. As you move, the scripture scrolls automatically to the part of the design described here.
House of God.
Mary and Joseph are going up to the house of God. Shepherds keep watch over their flock. Together, these two passages reveal. Mary and Joseph are part of the flock, in the house of God – eternity. Jesus is the shepherd.
Mary is pregnant and pledged to be married. An angel stands before the shepherds. Mary is carrying a baby. The angel is carrying words about the baby.
Mary surrounds the baby with her body. The angel surrounds the shepherds with God’s glory. Mary’s pledged to be married, to be encircled into the family of God.
Both passages tell the same story. Together, they reveal something deeper.
Mary is about to give birth, as the day has come. The angel brings a message of good news of great joy for all the people. In both cases, something (and someone) is about to come into this world: the Word of God himself.
Birth of Christ
At this point, the connections between these two passages become obvious. Mary gives birth to her firstborn son. A savior has been born in David’s city who is Christ the Lord.
Christ enters our world, through a barrier. What was spiritual has become physical. Yet, the entire story is spiritual. It’s becoming part of you as we speak.
The connections continue. Jesus is wrapped in bands of cloth. The angel says to look for a baby wrapped in strips of cloths. Both passages mention a “feeding trough.”
Not only do these two passages connect, but there’s more. The connections, I believe, hold a deeper meaning or symbolism. Forgive me as I describe this cherished scene in a new way.
Mary wraps Jesus in cloths. His dead body will be wrapped in cloths. Mary places Jesus in a feeding trough. He will be placed in a tomb. He’s come to be eaten. Death will try to swallow him. The grave will try to swallow him. It ultimately will not work.
Multitude of Angels
As I mentioned earlier, this is where the parallels get fascinating. There’s no room in the inn. Suddenly, there was with the angel a great multitude of the heavenly army, praising God. No room. Great multitudes. Do you see it?
The Shepherd Story angels go into heaven. They go up to the house of God, a place so packed with souls, saved by Christ, there is “no room” in the inn.
I always assumed these angels came from heaven. That doesn’t appear to be the case. A single angel brings a story into this world. A great multitude of angels return.
Interestingly, these two passages tell the entire story of the bible, in only a handful of verses. Mankind is sent out of Eden. Jesus enters our world. He brings us back, like a great multitude of angels.
They’ve seen something spiritual, which no one has seen before. These parallels do the same thing for you and me. They reveal the bible in entirely new ways.
A pastor friend of mine described it as a “night vision camera” for scripture. It’s a way to see in the dark, or to see behind the curtain of this world into something far deeper, spiritual and eternal.
I find it amazing. And, it’s fun.
At the end of the day, I end up comparing passages like these two to the book of Revelation. That’s when things get really interesting. First, in showing how the bible connects. Then, revealing a deeper story – like a night vision camera for scripture.
Let’s look at an example. Click the right arrow, or the “Multitudes” link below.
To explore these passages directly, click this button: