From Swaddling Cloth to Grave Clothes to a Golden-Belted Robe

December 23, 2013 · 8 comments

There’s a line in the Christmas song “Away in a Manger” that says of the little Lord Jesus, “No crying he makes.” Now, anyone who has been around a newborn baby who hears this song says with a smirky, knowing smile, “Ha! No crying?”

Newborn babies cry and Jesus was not likely the exception. We also know from God’s word that there were others who wept around the time of Jesus’ birth. Matthew tells us that when King Herod realized that the wise men tricked him, he lashed out and ordered that all the baby boys in Bethlehem and surrounding towns to be murdered (Matt. 2:16). Babies and toddlers were ripped from their mothers’ arms and slaughtered. The prophet Jeremiah foretold of this inconsolable grief,

“A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more (Jer. 31:15).

But baby Jesus escaped the massacre plotted against his life. He grew up to be the Man of Sorrows who would weep over the fate of the people that had rejected him (Luke 19:41-42). When his hour finally did come, Jesus allowed himself to be led away outside the city to be crucified, giving his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). The Word made flesh who was born in a borrowed manger was laid to rest in a borrowed tomb. Death could not contain the author of life and relinquished him after three days; Jesus became the firstborn from the dead (Rev. 1:5). He left his grave clothes in the empty tomb. He later ascended into heaven, clothed in human flesh forever (Mark 16:19). Jesus now wears a robe with his name on it: “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16).

The last line of “Away in a Manger” is a prayer that Jesus would “fit us for heaven to live with Thee there.” Indeed, he shall:

“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’” (1 Cor. 15:52-54).

The angels announced the birth of the eternal Son of God. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Today we make a similar announcement, heralding the good news of free grace through Jesus, pleading with every heart to prepare him room. Immanuel (Isa. 7:14), “God with us,” is preparing a place for us in his Father’s house (John 14:2). We don’t know when, but a day is coming when the new Jerusalem will come down out of heaven from God and a loud voice will issue forth from the throne saying,

“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (Rev. 21:3).

And the baby who cried in the manger will wipe away every tear from our eyes (Rev. 21:4).

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tim December 24, 2013 at 8:35 am

The swaddling cloth / grave clothes connection is excellent, Gloria.

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2 Gloria December 24, 2013 at 9:04 am

Thanks Tim!

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3 Jon December 24, 2013 at 6:59 pm

This was awesome! Very encouraging. Perfect read to go along with advent, thanks for sharing.

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4 Travis Ham December 24, 2013 at 11:58 pm

Great stuff Gloria! Incidentally, in place of the “no crying” verse of Away In a Manger, here’s a verse that I came up with a few years ago:

The God that created the stars by His breath
Was born as a baby to save us from death
Lord Jesus our Savior came humbly to earth
And when we trust in Him He gives us new birth

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5 Betsy December 27, 2013 at 8:00 pm

This is a wonderful devotional you’ve written! I love all the verses to Away in a Manger. We sing it often as a family during Advent.

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6 Andrew Gilmore December 27, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Such a great encapsulation of what Christmas is really about. Thanks! I wish more people could hear this story.

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7 paccana.com December 30, 2013 at 5:03 am

A gold belted robe sounds nice!

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