What Did Mary Do?

December 20, 2003

Luke 2:7 – 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. (KJV)

A few years ago, when my son's family was expecting their third child, I had an interesting conversation with my two granddaughters. We talked about what it would be like to have a new baby in the family. Then we talked about all the ways mothers prepare for their babies, like decorating a nursery, and purchasing baby clothes and blankets. Since our discussion took place during Advent, we were thinking about Christmas and about the birth of Jesus. One of the girls asked, "What did Mary do?"

"Let's ask Dr. Luke," I said. "He would have known how to care for babies." We found our answer written in Luke 2:7. Mary prepared swaddling clothes — but what were swaddling clothes?

Together we discovered that swaddling clothes were long strips of linen about five inches wide, which mothers wrapped tightly around their babies' bodies for the first six months of their lives. At the time Jesus was born, parents believed that swaddling clothes would help their babies grow straight and strong. They would often use two to three yards of swaddling bands. Each day, mothers like Mary would lovingly unwrap their babies and rub salt and olive oil into their skin to prevent infection. Then they would massage their arms and legs, and carefully wrap them up again. In some parts of Russia, people still wrap their babies in swaddling clothes today.

What did Mary do? She obeyed her heavenly Father by being willing to become the earthly mother of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus the Christ. She prepared for, loved, and cared for the newborn baby Jesus. As an obedient servant, Mary witnessed the awe, the wonder, and the glory of our Father's magnificent gift of love, in the form of the Christ Child.

What will we do? We, too, can obey our heavenly Father by being willing to serve Him, and, through our obedience, we can find that same magnificent gift of love in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus the Christ.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the greatest of all gifts, Your Son, Jesus. Thank You, as well, for His mother, Mary, who prepared for His arrival, and provided loving care for Him in such a special way. Help us, like her, to be obedient servants of Yours, so that we, too, may know the love of Your Son, Jesus the Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.

About the author:

Judith Welch <judithwelch12@gmail.com>
Lincoln, Nebraska, USA

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