“And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
(Luke 2:12-14, ESV)
Why this little detail? Why mention the baby blankets wrapping up the baby Jesus from the cold? The angels mention it as if it’s important to them, not just the sign they found the right baby. Babies get swaddled – it’s what they do, or rather it’s what’s done to them.
But the angels are quite specific. You’ll find him in swaddling cloths. In a feed trough in the barn.
We aren’t told much about what angels think in the Bible, what their attitudes are or what they think of us. We can guess. They’ve seen all of what humans can do, you and me and everyone else. They are silent witnesses of our history, and they know the truths of quiet atrocities and noisy cribs. I wonder what they think, and it’ll be interesting to ask them some day.
They noticed the swaddling cloths.
Think about how astonished they must’ve been. There’s a privilege that some of the seraph angels have, which is to worship before the throne of the high King of heaven night and day. He is a king greater than all kings. Atoms and galaxies spin at His command. Gravity and entropy heed Him like well trained sheepdogs. Without beginning, without end, and without change. Praise Him!
And now He needs His mom to still His wailing in the night, needs the comfort of the womb in a tight wrap of cotton, needs His arms tucked in so He doesn’t scratch His face, needs her milk, her love, and her tenderness. Born into abject poverty, His first cries echoing in a barn, born to a life of misery, homelessness, and danger. And He needs, at that moment, His mom’s wrapping and cuddling love in the cold.
No wonder they were singing and we still echo: Gloria in excelsis Deo – glory to God in the HIGHEST!!! Superlatives fail us! The angels are dumbfounded and amazed and marveling. They call us to the same response.
There are many joys and encouragements to faith in this story, and there’s a beautiful invitation to know Him. He’s so available. The one thing that strikes me, and astonishes my brain, is that He doesn’t despise our situation. He isn’t “too good” to be here with us, among us, and like us. He’s so good He jumps into our universe into the deep end for us. He’s so good He humbles Himself beyond even our expectations. He’s so good, the angels are besides themselves with wonder.
Ask our Father to give us new wonder today, that by the Spirit we might glimpse what angels were stunned by – the highest glory of all glories, come to earth as a poor baby boy, to save a bunch of sinners who didn’t even care. What a God! What a Savior! What a Christmas joy! Praise Him!