Contrary to the lyrics of a popular Christmas hymn, it was probably not a silent night. As Joseph and Mary walked into the stable, they found themselves surrounded by various loud and dirty animals, each clamoring for food and space in the dingy shelter. The young couple may have wondered why Mary had to give birth in such an unrefined place. Only nine months earlier, they had been visited by an angel who foretold the coming of the long-promised Messiah through Mary’s virgin womb. As Joseph and Mary had come to realize, those angels had not included information about just where this world-changing birth would occur.
Now they knew. But as the new parents laid their precious child in that manger, they probably scarcely knew how symbolic such an act would be. Yes, the Creator of the entire universe — the Master Architect of everything in existence — was now resting in a rough-hewn wooden trough located in a crudely-built animal barn. As the newborn Jesus gasped his first breath in that stable, God knew that His plan for our redemption would be fully accomplished with Jesus’ last dying gasp on the cross.