I was watching The Nativity Story to use as some inspiration for my speaking opportunity at our church’s alternative service this week. (I’m sharing about Joseph of Nazareth and wrestling with big decisions.) As it comes to the scene (SPOILER ALERT!) where Jesus is born, a realization hit me.
SHORT but important TANGENT: The word “manger” is different than how it typically gets portrayed in nativity sets. Instead of an open air barn, it was most likely a stable where animals lived—but was probably located in a cave. Research has shown that the poorest of poor in Israel often crafted their homes in caves. These caves would have also been an easy place to house some animals, too. Mary and Joseph would have been asked to stay there since giving birth rendered people ritually unclean. That sort of explains why they needed to be out of the way of everyone else who were at the inn. END OF TANGENT.
As the heavens open and the light from the star pours out onto the holy family, I realized that just as Jesus’ life began in a cave, it ended in a cave, too. His first resting place was eerily similar to his final (pre-Resurrection, baby!) resting place. He first appeared in that original cave because of poverty and road trip blunders but the cave Jesus was buried in came from a well-off disciple who wanted to honor The Christ. The cave serves as bookends on an amazing tenure on Earth.
That’s the romantic beauty that Scripture weaves in this tale of divine love God has for us. We are His creation that He redeems through the fresh bundle of 8 lbs, 6 oz. baby Jesus, regardless of how much time He has to spend in dirty, musty caves to do it.