And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7
There is so much symbolism in this verse: In ancient Jewish tradition during their betrothal and before their marriage while the groom built their new home, the bride made many preparations as well, one of which was the embroidery of the swaddling bands with which the groom and bride's hands would be wrapped (or bound) during the wedding ceremony. These same swaddling bands would later be used to bind swaddling clothes upon the couple's children. The Hebrew verb "to bind" is rich in meaning and is closely linked with the verbs "to create", "to bless", and "to covenant", and the swaddling bands are symbolic of, among other things, sacrificial binding cords and of the blessings, covenants, and new creation that results from the sacrifice. The two activities of building a home and embroidering swaddling bands are profound, beautiful, and synergistic as roles are symbolically reversed, combined, and unified. The woman is symbolic of, and in a sense literally the home, the temple, and heaven (all three really the same thing), and the man is to act as a servant and a keeper, and a large part of his work is done outside the home, protecting, providing, and in temple terms officiating outside the temple enclosure in the court of sacrifices. Thus, as the groom builds the future home, and the bride embroiders swaddling bands, they involve themselves in each other's domains, serve each other and their posterity, and become one.
As Mary wrapped Jesus in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, His Father symbolically bound His Son and laid Him upon the altar. This occurred outside the inn, or, symbolically, outside the temple enclosure, in a symbolic court of sacrifices. He was the only one good enough among numberless spirit children of the Father, and He was so good that His accomplishment of His Father's purposes, ultimately resulting in our salvation, was absolutely certain. He lived a sinless life and loved us infinitely.
I often think of Jesus as a child, and how He might have learned, progressing from grace to grace, beyond the capability of imperfect man to teach. What did He think and feel as He first read Isaiah 53 or 61? What did He think and feel as He read some of the Psalms, such as Psalm 22:1, 13-18, as follows?
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.
They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
What did he think when He, as a child, first observed the feasts, when at Passover it was the tradition for the lowest class, often a slave or a servant to wash the others' feet, when the head of the house dipped bitter herbs into salt water or vinegar and passed them to the others at the table, when the bread was broken, and when the Passover lamb was slain?
I cannot do justice in my imperfect, finite mind to all of these questions, but I can feel and express all the gratitude of which I am capable to Him and commit myself to Him as fully as I am able. Again, in the words of the Christmas song, I referenced last week--I Love Thee, Lord Jesus. How I love Him.