I remember when my daughter was born the nurse showed me how to "swaddle" her. It seemed to be too tighI t but the nurse convinced me that Sarah wanted to feel safe as if she were still in the womb. She also explained that infants sleep better and being swaddled prevents them from scratching themselves. When I swaddled Sarah, she was very content. Through the years, at every child's Christmas play, I heard Luke 2: 12, "And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."
Swaddling clothes are cloths and bands used in the practice of swaddling, or essentially “wrapping” an infant tightly in cloth. The idea behind swaddling is that it helps the baby transition from the womb (a very snug place) to the outside world. May was an attentive and loving mother who swaddled her baby. The cloths were more like bands made from linen or cotton material and were 15-18 feet long. The width was about four to five inches.
The angel prophesied a baby, a Savior, would be born, wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger. The Bible says in Luke 2: 7, "Sure enough, when Jesus was born, the Bible says in Luke 2: 7, "And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger." Why would they include swaddling cloths?
Micah 4: 8, "As for you, watchtower of the flock, stronghold of Daughter Zion, the former dominion will be restored to you; kingship will come to Daughter Jerusalem." Some say this is a prophetic verse referring to the watchtower where the priestly shepherds would watch over their flocks in the fields in Bethlehem. Priestly shepherds were those who raised lambs for the sacrifice by the priests in the Jerusalem temple. In the lower portion of the watchtower is where the birthing of the future sacrificial lambs took place. The shepherd would wrap the newborn lamb in swaddling clothes to protect the lambs body because scripture required a perfect lamb without blemish. This lamb would be laid in a manger lined with soft hay while it settled down from the birthing process. When it settled down the shepherd would remove the swaddling clothes and give the lamb to its mother. The lamb would receive special care because it would grow to become the lamb sacrificed for the sins of the people.
So, on that first Christmas Eve, the priestly shepherds in their fields near Bethlehem knew where to find the newborn. He would be found where the angel had told them, wrapped in swaddling cloths lying in a manger. They would find our Savior, Jesus Christ, wrapped like they wrapped their own precious lambs meant for sacrifice. This Jesus would be sacrificed to take away the sin of the world.
To many people seeing a baby in a manger meant very little but to the shepherd who prepared lambs for the temple sacrifice, it was a sign of the coming Messiah. They were aware that the Messiah would one day free the people from their sins. They came in haste to see this baby, lying in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes. The recognized the sign - this baby was born to die for the sins of the world.
I will never think of "swaddling" the same again. When we swaddle babies we can remember they are covered and protected by our Savior, Jesus Christ!