The Christmas scene birth of Jesus (Lk 2:7-2:7)

“Mary gave birth

To her first-born son.

She wrapped him

In bands

Of swaddling cloths.

She laid him

In a manger,

Because there was

No place

For them

In the inn.”

 

καὶ ἔτεκεν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς τὸν πρωτότοκον, καὶ ἐσπαργάνωσεν αὐτὸν καὶ ἀνέκλινεν αὐτὸν ἐν φάτνῃ, διότι οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τόπος ἐν τῷ καταλύματι.

 

Luke explained in great detail about the birth of Jesus, his clothing, and the manger, that has become the famous Christmas scene that most have come to know and love.  Matthew, chapter 2:1, had no details like this in his story about the birth of Jesus, while Mark and John had no infancy narratives at all.  In fact, Matthew said that the Magi visited Mary and the child in a house in chapter 2:11, not a manger.  Luke reported that Mary gave birth to her first-born son (καὶ ἔτεκεν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς τὸν πρωτότοκον).  Did that imply that there were other children?  Within the Jewish tradition, the first-born male child would be dedicated to God with special legal and family rights, as indicated in Exodus, chapter 13:2, where Yahweh got the first-born of everything, as a consecration to God.  In Numbers, chapter 3:12, the Levites take the place of the first born as a dedication to God.  In Deuteronomy, chapter 21:17, the first born had all the rights versus the other children.  Mary wrapped the baby Jesus with bands of cloth or swaddling clothes (καὶ ἐσπαργάνωσεν αὐτὸν), as it is often called.  These tight bands of cloth kept the arms and legs of the newborn from wailing away, while also keeping the child warm.  Then Mary laid him in a manger (καὶ ἀνέκλινεν αὐτὸν ἐν φάτνῃ), because there was no place for them in the lodging inn (διότι οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τόπος ἐν τῷ καταλύματι).  This manger (ἐν φάτνῃ) was a feeding trough for horses and cattle.  Thus, Jesus was born in a place where animals would feed.  He then would offer himself as the bread of life.  Apparently, they were in a barn because there were no appropriate lodging places for a pregnant expecting woman.  There was no indication that Joseph had other relatives in Bethlehem where they might stay.  Just by coincidence, I am posting this blog on December 24, 2018, Christmas Eve.

Peter follows Jesus to the courtyard of the high priest (Mt 26:58-26:58)

“But Peter

Was following Jesus

At a distance.

He went

As far as the courtyard

Of the high priest.

Going inside,

He sat

With the guards

In order to see

How this would end.”

 

ὁ δὲ Πέτρος ἠκολούθει αὐτῷ ἀπὸ μακρόθεν ἕως τῆς αὐλῆς τοῦ ἀρχιερέως, καὶ εἰσελθὼν ἔσω ἐκάθητο μετὰ τῶν ὑπηρετῶν ἰδεῖν τὸ τέλος.

 

This is similar to Mark, chapter 14:54, and Luke, chapter 22:54-55, but Peter was there to warm himself and not see what was happening.  In John, chapter 18:15-16, Peter was with another disciple, who helped him to get into the courtyard.  Here Matthew said that Peter had followed Jesus (ὁ δὲ Πέτρος ἠκολούθει αὐτῷ), but at a distance (ἀπὸ μακρόθεν).  Peter even went as far as the courtyard of the high priest (ἕως τῆς αὐλῆς τοῦ ἀρχιερέως).  Then he went inside the courtyard (καὶ εἰσελθὼν ἔσω) and sat with the guards or servants (ἐκάθητο μετὰ τῶν ὑπηρετῶν) of the high priest in order to see what was going to happen in the end (ἰδεῖν τὸ τέλος), since he was curious to see what was going to happen to Jesus.  Yet at the same time, he was careless in entering the courtyard with the servants and guards of the high priest.  This could be trouble for Peter.

Bad times (Hag 1:5-1:6)

“Now therefore thus

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘Consider how you have fared.

You have sown much,

But you have harvested little.

You eat,

But you never have enough.

You drink,

But you never have your fill.

You clothe yourselves,

But no one is warm.

You who earn wages,

Earn wages to put them

Into a bag with holes.’”

Yahweh, via Haggai, indicated that they were suffering bad times.  They had sown much, but only harvested a little.  They never had enough food.  When they drank, they were never full.  When they put clothes on, it did not keep them warm.  When they earned wages, it went into a bag with holes in it, so that they did not get to keep their own wages.  Things were not going well.

The folly of a block of wood (Isa 44:18-44:20)

“They do not know anything.

They do not comprehend.

Their eyes are shut.

Thus they cannot see.

Their minds are shut.

Thus they cannot understand.

No one considers this.

No one has knowledge.

No one has discernment to say.

‘I burned half of it in the fire.

I also baked bread on its coals.

I roasted meat.

I have eaten meat.

Shall I make the rest of it an abomination?

Shall I fall down before a block of wood?’

He feeds on ashes.

A deluded mind has led him astray.

He cannot save himself.

He cannot say.

‘Is not this thing in my right hand a fraud?’”

Second Isaiah explains the moral of this tale of the idol carpenter maker. These idol makers do not know or understand what they are doing. Their eyes and minds are shut, so that they cannot see or understand. These carpenters do not consider that they used part of their precious wood to make a fire to keep them warm and cook on. They then made their abominable wooden idol out of the rest of this wood. Do they not realize that they are bowing down to a block of wood? They have deluded minds. They have been led astray. They eat ashes. They do not understand that what they have made with their right hand is a fraud.

The making and the worship of the wooden idol (Isa 44:15-44:17)

“The carpenter also makes a god.

He worships it.

He makes this carved image.

He bows down before it.

He burns half of it in the fire.

Over this half,

He roasts meat.

He eats it.

He is satisfied.

He also warms himself.

He says.

‘O!

I am warm!

I can feel the fire!’

He makes the rest of it

Into a god,

His idol.

He bows down to it.

He worships it.

He prays to it.

He says.

‘Save me!

You are my god!’”

Second Isaiah has this carpenter carve a god out of his wood and then worship it. He takes this carved image and bows down to it. With the left over wood he starts a fire, so that he was able to cook a piece of meat that he ate with great satisfaction. This fire also kept him warm. However, the rest of this wood was used to make his idol god. After he had completed his carving, he bowed down to it, worshipped it, and prayed to it. He said that his carved idol was his god, so that he wanted this own carved idol to save him. In other words, he made a god to save him.

Pray to God (Wis 16:24-16:29)

“Creation,

Serving you

Who made it,

Exerts itself to punish the unrighteous.

In kindness,

It relaxes on behalf of those

Who trust in you.

Therefore at that time also,

Changed into all forms,

It served your all-nourishing bounty,

Aaccording to the desire of those who had need,

Thus your children,

Whom you loved,

O Lord!

Might learn

That it is not the production of crops

That feeds humankind.

But your word sustains

Those who trust in you.

What was not destroyed by fire

Was melted

When simply warmed by a fleeting ray of the sun.

This was to make it known

That one must rise before the sun

To give you thanks.

One must pray to you

At the dawning of the light.

The hope of an ungrateful person

Will melt like wintry frost.

This hope will flow away like waste water.”

Creation serves God by punishing the unrighteous. However, it gives bounty to those whom you love, your children, your sons (οἱ υἱοί σου). People should learn that it is not the production of crops that feeds people, but the word of the Lord (Κύριε) that sustains them. Thus fire can destroy or warm a crop. Therefore, humans should rise in the morning before sunlight to give thanks and pray to God. Otherwise, the hope of an ungrateful person will melt like frost. Their hope will flow away like waste water.

Clothing for the family (Prov 31:20-31:23)

Kaph

“She opens her hand to the poor.

She reaches out her hands to the needy.

Lamed

She is not afraid for her household,

When it snows.

All her household are clothed in crimson.

Mem

She makes herself coverings.

Her clothing is fine linen.

Her clothing is purple.

Nun

Her husband is known in the city gates.

He takes his seat among the elders of the land.”

This perfect wife opens up and reaches out to the poor and the needy. She is not afraid of snow, since her household has crimson warm garments. She makes her own clothes, fine linen, and purple. Thus her husband can sit at the city gates with the elders of the land, while she takes care of everything in the household.