The fullness of time (Ephesians 1: 10) had come and God became a human being (John 1: 14), born of a woman (Galatians 4: 4; Luke 1: 35), wrapped in swaddling clothes (Luke 2: 7) and born for us (Isaiah 9: 6; John 3: 16-17; Luke 2: 11).
This event was long predicted. “God Himself gave us a sign. A virgin is pregnant; she will have a son and will name Him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7: 14), “which means, God is with us” (Matthew 1: 23).
It is hard to fathom God so humbled as to experience human birth. As a newborn, God would in all ways be treated as we are treated; cord cut, cleansed with water, rubbed with salt, and then wrapped in swaddling clothes (Ezekiel 16: 4). Even so, He that makes darkness a swaddling band for the sea was Himself wrapped in swaddling bands (Job 38:9).
In Luke 2: 12, the angel specifically identifies God as being swaddled. The original word for swaddling clothes means to rend, or tear. So even at the point of birth, the very swaddles that held Gods body were linens, ragged and torn, predictive of the mission God completed.
What was this mission and what became of this God man? It is best described by the prophesies and the events themselves.
Isa 53:2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
Isa 53:3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Isa 53:4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
Isa 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.
Isa 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned–everyone–to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isa 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
Isa 53:8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?
Isa 53:9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Isa 53:10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Isa 53:11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.
Isa 53:12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.
And when they had crucified Jesus, “…he (Joseph of Arimethea) took [Him] down, wrapped [Him] in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid (Luke 23: 53).
Mankind put God back into those same swaddling clothes that so long ago had been forsaken. But the swaddles could not hold God. Oh no, not quite, for God rose on the third day, completing the work that He had come to do.
Many did not understand. Many still do not understand, but God continues to tell us in His own words…
“Peace to you!” (Luke 24: 36)…”These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations… (Luke 24: 44-47).
The swaddling clothes that cocooned God at Christmas are the same ones that were released at His resurrection. Nothing can hold God back from the people that He loves. He reaches out to all of the people of the world.
Humble and lowly, gentle and meek, come to earth in the body of a newborn baby, swaddled in holy light shining forth into a dark and cold world, yet reaching forth in love.
Humble and lowly, gentle and meek, come to earth as a man to bear the sins of many. Torn for our transgressions, rent so that we could be healed, yet making intercession as the final offering of peace.
Swaddled in linen both in loves manger and loves tomb.