While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. – Luke 2:6-7
After the rude, bustling crowds of Bethlehem’s streets, the quiet of the cave was a relief for Mary and Joseph. They had to share it with pack animals belonging to the guests of the inn, however its irregular shape provided a small cove apart from their stamping feet. Joseph quickly made a makeshift bed of hay and blankets on the rough rock floor for Mary to lay down. Like a nesting bird she bunched the bedding up against the cool dry wall of the cave, then squatted with her back against it. Another contraction came hard. She arched against the immovable rock, spreading her arms for handholds in the crevices.
Joseph moved around a stony outcrop to give Mary some privacy, but not too far in case she needed him. His heart pounded at the sound of her groaning. Is this truly where Jehovah wants His son to be born? In a stable, a cavern in the side of a hill, full of smelly beasts? But it was peaceful, with the soft sounds of the animals giving company and their bodies warmth. Why not a cave? A space in the earth hollowed out by his Father’s own hands could well be the most fitting birthplace for the Son of God.
Mary gave a piercing cry, then silence, finally broken by the thin wail of a newborn baby. When she called to him, he found strength in the stalwart walls of the cave beneath his hands, his legs unsteady as he came to see the child for the first time.
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. – Luke 24: 1 – 2
Several women came early to the tomb where Jesus’ body lay, an enlarged limestone cave on a hillside near Jerusalem. Mary Magdalene placed her trembling hand on the round sealing stone rolled off to the side, wondering how it came to be moved. She cradled the jar of embalming spices more tightly, then crouched beneath the low entrance way. The air of the cave came to her as a cool breath, slightly scented, though strangely without the stench of death. Dawn’s weak light crept across the ocher floor, revealing an empty ledge where his body should be. The women behind her gasped but Mary stood silent, taking in the empty strips of burial linen and bloodstained head cloth folded separately. Why had his body been taken?
As the question formed in her mind, a man suffused in light appeared before her. She fell to her knees on the rough floor, covering her face. “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen!” Risen! He had escaped the confines of this cave and of death. The stone was rolled away, not for him to leave, but for her to see …. He is risen!