The Christmas Crèche 12/25/2022
My essays usually are attempts to correct misunderstandings of the Bible, of misinterpreted words or old archaic language that misdirects our understanding, our perceptions of God and Jesus and the Spirit and the purposes of God, and even things added that are not really written in the Bible. For the first time, however, I realized what a personal shock those revelations can be to our mindsets that have developed from childhood til now… Because it just happened to me!
I just read an essay exposing the errors in setting up the traditional Christmas crèche, representing Jesus birth. My initial response was a shakey, “What?!? …nooo…”
So I reread the Bible accounts in Matthew and Luke, and to my surprise, the writer was correct. The picture in my mind was a mishmash and condensed soup with fantasized additions. Now, I had already discovered that the kings bearing gifts were not kings but astronomers. Also, that they were not present at His birth but visited Him when He was a toddler. In addition, and much less important, a manger is an animal’s feeding trough, not a stable.
Anyways, Joseph and Mary might not have had a donkey at all, but walked the 4–5 day journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem with young Mary in her final trimester. Can you imagine?! As it turned out she was just a week or two away from delivering her firstborn! (Joseph, though, as a tradesman might have had a donkey-the pickup truck of those days.) Since Bethlehem was Joseph’s ancestral hometown, he might have counted on family ties to put them up in one of the guest rooms. Unfortunately, there was no such room available because of everyone returning for the census. So, they had to take what was available, the back room used for family animals. There baby Jesus was swaddled with whatever rags Joseph could find for Mary, and they had only a feeding trough for his crib.
Our family has traditionally set up the wrong scene for years. Another tradition gone kaput. The visit from the shepherds (who were poorer than anybody) was the only thing supported by the Bible. But when I thought about all of this for awhile, it became clear that the corrected image fits so much better into the whole of the Gospel message.
He left His home and everything He had in Heaven to become just a lowly tradesman’s son, to go through what every person goes through to become an adult, and then to even give that up to rescue us from ourselves, to die for us, because “…God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.