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Food for thought: The birth of Jesus

From Scot McKnight's The Real Mary: Why Evangelical Christians Can Embrace the Mother of Jesus:

The birth of Jesus was real. When Mary gave birth, she probably had a midwife, because in the Jewish world women gave medical care to women. In the absence of a midwife, Joseph would have performed the duties of a midwife. Mary probably delivered Jesus from a brithing stool with a back and grips, which was also shaped with a crescent-shaped bottom so the baby could slide through into the safe grasp of the midwife. Like all mothers, she was in pain. The midwife (or Joseph) would have then taken care of the baby and Mary as well as the blood and afterbirth. Mary, then, Luke's Gospel tells us, wrapped the baby in "swaddling cloths" to keep Jesus warm and safe, and then she laid Jesus to rest "in a manger." Think of a shell of stones with a slight depression or (less likely) a feeding trough constructed of wood. Such things are not designed for babies, especially one with a "sweet" head.

It matters that Jesus had a real body. For Jesus to be really human he had to be born, as the apostle Paul wrote in the fourth chapter of his letter to the Galatians, of a woman and not just through a woman. God didn't just use Mary as a "rent-a-womb" but actually became DNA--Mary's. The theological expression at work here is "incarnation," and the underlying principle is this: What God becomes, God redeems. God becomes what we are--with a real body--so we can become children of God. That's why Jesus' real body is important to our faith.

For Mary there was another issue. When Mary held that newborn little body in her hands, Mary witnessed the living reality of the promise Gabriel had made to her nine months earlier. She was holding the promise-come-true. The real body she held proved to her that what God said really would take place. . . . For the real Mary, that live body named Jesus may have been a messy, fussy, physical little body, but that real body was an undeniable witness to the truth that God could work miracles.

(Image: Public Domain)

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