The birth of Christ was a blessing to all of us. But, the nice, cozy, wonderful depiction of His birth that is often given is not the reality that really unfolded.
Luke 2:7 (KJV) “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.”
Many of us, when we think of Jesus birth, picture a beautiful star lit sky, a warm stable, with gentle animals standing around. The baby Jesus lying in sweet smelling soft hay as Mary and Joseph look on. Perhaps some kind shepherds passing by to pay their respects.
What it was really like some 2000 years ago. Because Jesus birth was not so much marked by warmness, welcome and comfort, as it was by coldness, rejection and poverty.
The trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem must not have been a pleasant journey. Mary had to have been late into her pregnancy and the distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem is some 90 miles a trip of 3-5 days on rough and often muddy roads. It is quite unlikely that Mary rode on a donkey as we sometimes imagine. It is never mentioned in Scripture and as we will see Mary and Joseph were quite poor. So at 7-9 months pregnant Mary makes this difficult journey on foot, on rough roads for 3-5 days.
The birth was a lonely birth. Luke tells us that Mary wrapped Jesus in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger. In Jewish society at that time most births were attended by mid-wives, who helped in the delivery and initial care of the baby and mother. It appears that there was no mid-wife. Mary herself took on what had to be done.
The birth was characterized by poverty. Jesus is laid in a manger, a feeding trough for animals. Most of us picture them in a stable which may be true. But if you have spent much time in barns or stables you know that they are dirty, smelly places and not where you would want your newborn to spend their first days.