(This is #7 of the presentations for the series “Fashion Statements: Lessons from Garments in the Bible.”)
Today we will talk about baby’s clothes. Nowadays, fashion is not only for adults but even for babies. Signature brands like Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Lacoste and other designers, have clothing lines for babies. Of course Ukay-ukay have clothes for babies too.
When a baby is about to be born, friends and family will hold a baby shower party for the expectant mother and father. During this party they will shower them with gifts. No, they don’t give them real bath or shower. One of the most popular gifts to give during this parties are baby’s clothes.
I don’t think Mary and Joseph had a baby shower party held for them when Jesus was about to be born. How could they have a party if they don’t even have a place for Mary to give birth, right? Yet, Jesus wore a “signature” baby clothes when he was born.
Luke 2: 11-12 – For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.
The angels announced to the shepherds that the Messiah was born in the city of David, which is Bethlehem. In order for them to find the right baby in that city, they were given a sign.
Finding a baby in a stable and lying in a manger was strange enough I would say, but there was more than to it. The baby was wrapped not in a diaper or a blanket, but in a swaddling clothes. Have you ever wonder why the swaddling clothes was a sign?
What is swaddling clothes anyway?
A swaddling clothes is a long and narrow bands of cloth that is used in wrapping a body in the olden times. Then, where did Mary and Joseph got this “signature” cloth, you may ask, to wrap their baby? No, not in a shopping mall or store, for I don’t believe they had time for that, though I think there were a lot of merchandise and bargains in Jericho, which was on the way. And definitely that type of cloth is not something lying around in a stable, or something that they just stumbled upon on the road in their long trip to Bethlehem.
The ancient Middle Eastern culture have a tradition that when they travel that will last for many days to months, men will take with them, a long, thin, gauze-like cloth, and wrap it many times around their waist. This would be one of the bottom layers of their clothing, and this would not be like Calvin Klein or Hanes underwear. This cloth is reserved for death, if in case this will happen while they are traveling. If someone died during the journey, their friends and family would use this cloth and wrap their body from head to toe, just like a mummy, so they could complete their journey.
Since Mary and Joseph’s journey from their hometown of Nazareth, to Joseph’s ancestral town of Bethlehem, was a couple of days travel (about 130 kilometers in distance one way), it was most likely that Joseph was wearing his “death” cloth according to their custom. Do you see where this is going?
Though it cannot be proven with certainty as it was not recorded directly in the scriptures, but it was very likely that baby Jesus was wrapped in Joseph’s “death” cloth! A baby adorned with burial garment. That would make one of the wise men’s gift even more appropriate. If you remember the wise men gifts, they are gold, frankincense and myrrh. Myrrh, was the spice used to embalm the dead. It was basically a deodorant for the dead.
Do you see the theme here? Jesus was a baby born to die. He came to this world to die for you and for me.
The greatest gift that God gave this world was not wrapped with bows and ribbons, nor with velvet royalty clothing, rather, was wrapped with “death” cloth. He came for you and me.
(*photo from pinterest.com)