“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” Luke 2.4-7
It’s not news that Jesus was placed first in a manger. This feed trough for animals was most likely cleaned but not sanitary. When I watch cows eat at our family ranch, or feed them by hand, the grossness and slobber is abundant. I’m confident someone did the best they could to clean out this manger in which to lay the Son of God. But still, it was a manger.
The cribs we have today for our kids are much nicer. Some of them rock themselves! With cameras, alarms, sensors or Lord knows what built in, to protect our babies from harm. The manger certainly was wood or stone. It was crude, rough and unconventional. Yet they needed somewhere to lay the baby Jesus when he wasn’t being held or nursed by Mary.
The humble way in which Jesus came into the world is not much different than the way he left it – nailed to a Roman cross, suffering for the sins of the world. The Lamb of God born to save was fulfilling his God-given directive. He did so willingly, knowing that he was born to die but also to rise again.
The birth of the Messiah is a story for the ages. Born to a virgin, pledged to be married to a Jewish man who was in the successive line to David in the town of Bethlehem. Fulfillment of prophecies all around. Signs pointing to the fact that Jesus was the Christ. Sirens practically shouting out his identity. Angels heralding his arrival, shepherds and wisemen honoring the once and future King of the World.
Yet still, many missed this majestic moment or sell short the significance of the Saviors arrival. The birth of Jesus is no less than monumental. It’s momentous and we should not only take notice of it ourselves, we should tell the world. For the promise of the birth of Jesus has the power to save, to heal and to redeem.
What has the birth of Jesus meant to you this season? Have you told your friends and neighbors about a God “who came down?” Have you proclaimed like the angels the arrival of the Messiah? What are we waiting for? Why not allow this two thousand year old birth to ring in our hearts today?
“O Lord God, thank you for your humble beginnings. For coming so naturally to this world. You didn’t appear as conquering king but as an innocent infant. You were born to die, so that we might live. Come now, Holy Spirit, take your message to the ends of the earth. Help us know the power of the manger and the cross. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen