Advent: Understanding the “Calypso Carol”

Prince William and Kate Middleton have had two royal babies to date. Prince George and Princess Charlotte were both born in a hospital. They live in palaces and royal residences (which is a fancy way to say “home”).

If you heard that a king who was supposed to be greater than any other king was born, where would you expect him to live?

Today’s Christmas carol is the “Calypso Carol,” also known as “See Him Lying in a Bed of Straw.”

A Royal Welcome

Jesus is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

These will wage war against the Lamb [Jesus Christ], and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.”

Revelation 17:14 (NASB)

And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

Revelation 19:16 (NASB)

What at what the angel said when he told Mary she was going to have a special baby.

The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”

Luke 1:30-33 (NASB)

A Poor Welcome

Such a great King we would expect to come to earth with great fanfare and celebration. Surely everyone would know such a mighty King had come, right?

He will when Jesus comes back again. You can read all about it in Revelation 19.

The first time Jesus came to earth, though, He did not come with such a splashy entrance. See for yourself.

In those days, Caesar Augustus made a law. It required that a list be made of everyone in the whole Roman world. It was the first time a list was made of the people while Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone went to their own town to be listed.

So Joseph went also. He went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea. That is where Bethlehem, the town of David, was. Joseph went there because he belonged to the family line of David. He went there with Mary to be listed. Mary was engaged to him. She was expecting a baby. While Joseph and Mary were there, the time came for the child to be born. She gave birth to her first baby. It was a boy. She wrapped him in large strips of cloth. Then she placed him in a manger. That’s because there was no guest room where they could stay.

Luke 2:1-7 (NIRV)

A stable! A barn! In with the dirty, smelly animals! Can you believe it? What kind of king is born in a barn? And to young, poor parents?

There is a hint of Jesus’ holiness, His set-apart-ness. Look at what happened to a bunch of poor, dirty shepherds hanging out with their sheep nearby.

There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby. It was night, and they were taking care of their sheep. An angel of the Lord appeared to them. And the glory of the Lord shone around them. They were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news. It will bring great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is the Messiah, the Lord. Here is how you will know I am telling you the truth. You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a large group of angels from heaven also appeared. They were praising God. They said,

“May glory be given to God in the highest heaven!
    And may peace be given to those he is pleased with on earth!”

The angels left and went into heaven. Then the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem. Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby. The baby was lying in the manger. After the shepherds had seen him, they told everyone. They reported what the angel had said about this child. All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary kept all these things like a secret treasure in her heart. She thought about them over and over. The shepherds returned. They gave glory and praise to God. Everything they had seen and heard was just as they had been told.

Luke 2:8-20 (NIRV)

There were hints that Jesus’ birth was special. It was just that not everyone knew it yet. Some figured it out when Jesus grew up and started telling people about God. Some have figured it out by learning more about Him. Others won’t figure it out until Jesus comes back, riding on the clouds in all His glory. Still, there is something very special about Jesus.

But, why?

Do you ever wonder why the King of kings would be willing to be born to such a poor family. He was born in a barn, for goodness sake! Why would God do that? Look at what it says about Jesus in Philippians 2.

In his very nature he was God.
    Jesus was equal with God. But Jesus didn’t take advantage of that fact.
Instead, he made himself nothing.
    He did this by taking on the nature of a servant.
    He was made just like human beings.
He appeared as a man.
    He was humble and obeyed God completely.
    He did this even though it led to his death.
        Even worse, he died on a cross!

So God lifted him up to the highest place.
    God gave him the name that is above every name.
When the name of Jesus is spoken, everyone will kneel down to worship him.
    Everyone in heaven and on earth and under the earth will kneel down to worship him.
Everyone’s mouth will say that Jesus Christ is Lord.
    And God the Father will receive the glory.

Philippians 2:6-11 (NIRV)

Jesus is God, but He gave up heaven and all the great things that go with it when He was born as a human baby like you, me, or any other human being. He had to learn how to walk, go to school, make friends, and probably worked with Joseph in his carpentry (woodworking) shop.

When Jesus was a man, He left home. He walk throughout Israel and taught people about God. He also showed them what God wanted and would do. He is the only one who could do this perfectly because Jesus IS God (John 14:19). Because Jesus is human, He was tempted (wanted to make wrong choices) just like we are. Still, because Jesus is also God, He never sinned (made the wrong choice), not even once (Hebrews 7:26-27)!

When Jesus died on the cross, He took our punishment for sin. All who turn away from their sin and trust in Jesus will be saved (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10).

Some people did accept him and did believe in his name. He gave them the right to become children of God.

John 1:12 (NIRV)

Think about all Jesus did for you as you listen to the “Calypso Carol.” See this video for more on this topic.

The Song

See him alying on a bed of straw
Draughty stable with an open door
Mary cradling the babe she bore
The prince of glory is his name.

Refrain:
Oh, now carry me to Bethlehem
To see the Lord appear to men
Just as poor as was the stable then
The prince of glory when he came.

Star of silver sweeps across the skies
Show where Jesus in the manger lies
Shepherds swiftly from your stupor rise
To see the Saviour of the world.

Refrain:
Oh, now carry me to Bethlehem
To see the Lord appear to men
Just as poor as was the stable then
The prince of glory when he came.

Mine are riches from thy poverty
From thine innocence, eternity
Mine, forgiveness by thy death for me
Child of sorrow, for my joy.

Refrain:
Oh, now carry me to Bethlehem
To see the Lord appear to men
Just as poor as was the stable then
The prince of glory when he came.

Angels, sing again the song you sang
Bring God’s glory to the heart of man
Sing, “Bethlehem’s little baby can
Be salvation to the soul.”

Refrain:
Oh, now carry me to Bethlehem
To see the Lord appear to men
Just as poor as was the stable then
The prince of glory when he came

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