And this shall be a sign to you; You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
"This shall be the sign," saith the angel. "Shall be"; but should it be this? No; how should it be? Let us see. Why, this shall be the sign; ye shall find the Child, not in these clouts or cratch, but in a crimson mantle, in a cradle of ivory. That, lo, were somewhat Saviour-like I But in vain take we upon us to teach the angel; we would have — we know not what. We forget St. s distingue tempera; as the time is the angel is right, and a fitter sign could not be assigned. Would we have had Him come in power and great glory? and so He will come, but not now. He that cometh here in clouts will one day come in the clouds. But now His coming was for another end, and so to be in another manner. His coming now was "to visit us in great humility," and so His sign to be according. Nay, then, I say, first go to the nature of a sign; if Christ had come in His excellency, that had been no sign, no more than the sun in the firmament shining in his full strength. Contrary to the course of nature it must be, else it is no sign. The sun eclipsed, the sun in sackcloth; that is signum in sole, "the sign indeed" (Luke 21:25). And that is the sign here: the Sun of Righteousness entering into His eclipse begins to be darkened in His first point, the point of His nativity. This is the sign, say I, and that had been none.
(Bishop Lancelot Andrewes.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.