What was the significance of the swaddling clothes?

We know that Christ was not born on December 25th. It didn’t happen. For many though, that is the day His birth is commemorated.

Regardless of views on the holiday that has been labeled “Christmas”, the birth of Jesus Christ is something that should be remembered and celebrated all throughout the year. He was born to die for our sins.

Within the manger scene, written of in the Bible, foreshadowing of Christ’s purpose and death is seen. Last year, my Dad did a study with our family on the historical significance of the swaddling clothes and manger that our Savior was laid in. That study really stuck with me, and made me do my own research further into it.

As children we are taught that the manger was a symbol of the humble birth the Savior received. That is very true. I mean, He is the Creator and Author of the universe, yet He took on the form of man and was born in a stable. The only cradle for his bed was a feed trough for the animals. That is hardly a birthplace for a KING.

There is no denying that it was a humble beginning for the Savior of mankind. But there is more to the story. If you look into the historical setting in which the birth of our Savior took place, it gives further insight.

Note: These are deductions taken from studying the historical surroundings at the time of Christ’s birth. I am not in any way saying that this was absolutely how everything happened. But I think there is a good chance this played a part in the symbolism within His birth.

As we study the gospels, we are given the accounts of Jesus’ birth.

“And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 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 2:6-7

Let’s take a look at what the culture and events going on at this point were. Bethlehem was only a short distance from Jerusalem. It was a special town, because it was there that the lambs for sacrifice at the Temple were born and raised until the time they would be taken to be offered. The hills outside of Bethlehem were the very places where the “royal lambs” who would cover the sins of the people were kept. As we study the qualifications for lambs to be given as sacrifices, we see a very demanding list of requirements.

They couldn’t be just any lamb. They had to be male, perfect, spotless, without any blemish or imperfection.

It’s of no surprise then, that Jesus was destined to be born in Bethlehem.

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.”

Luke 2:8

But then we see that the angels first appeared to the shepherds in fields outside of Bethlehem. There is a good chance these shepherds might have been Rabbinical Shepherds.

Rabbinical Shepherds were set apart and different from other shepherds. They were trained specifically to raise royal lambs, perfect and without blemish. Well versed in the Old Testament scriptures, they were educated men.

When a lamb was born, after having made sure that nothing had happened to the lamb during the birthing process that would exclude it from being a sacrifice, the Rabbinical Shepherds would take long strips of fabric and bind it tightly around the lamb. There could be no chance that anything could happen to harm the lamb, because it was already set apart to be a sacrificial lamb. By binding them tightly in this manner, they were protecting the lamb from nicking or bruising itself. Then they would lay it in a manger or feed trough lined with the softest hay available. Nothing could happen to these special lambs. The covering for the sins of the people required a lamb who was perfect in every way.

The swaddling clothes signified that this lamb was set apart to be a sacrifice. They alerted the other shepherds that special attention needed to be paid to this lamb, because it was a holy lamb destined for the Temple.

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

Luke 2:10-12

I find it incredibly interesting then, that the special sign the angels said would be given to the shepherds was that the Baby would be wrapped in swaddling clothes. Don’t you think that these shepherds would’ve known the dramatic significance of a Baby boy, born in Bethlehem, being wrapped in swaddling clothes?

It would be just like our God to give these shepherds a sign that they would know the meaning of better than any other sign that could’ve been given. When they came to the place where Baby Jesus was lying in a manger, and they looked upon Him—wrapped up tightly in the very same manner that they would wrap the Temple lambs—these shepherds would’ve instantly recognized that this Child was The One. This was the Baby prophesied of in the Old Testament scriptures. Remember, if these were Rabbinical shepherds, they would’ve been fully versed in the prophesies concerning their Messiah.

They would’ve known better than anyone else what the meaning was in the swaddling clothes that was the special sign to them. They would’ve understood that this Baby was their Messiah. They knew the meaning behind it—saw the cross foreshadowed on His face.

The swaddling clothes would’ve symbolized that Jesus was The Perfect Lamb—pure, spotless, without blemish, holy. It would’ve told them that He was set apart to be The Sacrifice for the sin of mankind.

It’s what they would do with their own Temple lambs, so it would’ve been no shock to them that The Lamb of God would be wrapped up in the same manner and laid within a manger.

“And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.”

Luke 2:17

Again, this was a miraculous event for these shepherds to witness! The angels had told them that this was The Christ Child promised for so long. When they came with haste to see the miraculous thing that had come to pass, they found it just as the angels had told them. The proof was in the pudding, so to speak. The Baby was wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger—a perfect picture of a Lamb set apart for Sacrifice.

To me, that would simply be the icing on top of the cake. Our God is a personal God. He specializes in personal touches. Don’t you think He knew fully that the best way to shew forth His Son to be The Lamb, was to go first to the ones who would understand the symbolism? He didn’t give them a sign that they wouldn’t understand. He gave them something that was undeniably a sign from Heaven that The Messiah had been born!

My heart floods with joy simply at the thought of it. What a gracious God we serve. What a powerful God we serve! It gives me chills thinking of what it must’ve been for those shepherds when they came and found the Perfect Lamb of God.

As we go forward into this season and the coming year, we can have full confidence, because all those long years ago The Lamb of God was born for our sins—wrapped in swaddling clothes to signify that He was The One.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever contemplated the significance of the swaddling clothes? Let me know in the comments! Don’t forget to like and share this post.

A. M. Watson

Hebrews 13:8

3 thoughts on “What was the significance of the swaddling clothes?

  1. Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever heard about Bethlehem and the surrounding areas being the special place for the lambs that would be sacrificed … and then that they wrapped the lambs in swaddling clothes. That’s just … amazing. It just makes me think of how the Lord knows how weak we are, and He gives us so much proof of the truth. How gracious He is! Thank you so much for this, sister!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well I’m glad I could be the first to share it with you! It is truly mindblowing to think about. What a perfect way for the Lamb of God to come into world! He truly is gracious to us.
      Thank you so much for reading! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! ❤


  2. Pingback: One Year Blogiversary! | Seeking The Timeless Anchor

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