During the Christmas season, one of our favorite things to do as a family is drive around different neighborhoods to look at all the Christmas decorations. This is one of the highlights of our year. It is always a special treat when we come across a lawn manger scene, which, sadly, are too few in number. It never ceases to amaze me that the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords would condescend to be born in a stable at Bethlehem, a place where the animals were fed.
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7)
Away in a manger
The Bible tells us that Jesus was born in a manger “because there was no place for them in the inn.” There is so much to this story that can be a source of good tidings, great joy, and gracious comfort to you this Christmas season, regardless of where this finds you. Let’s take a look at two more reasons to be enthralled at this marvelous sight of our Master in a manger.
The stable was the perfect place for the One who would take our place on the cross to be born. When we remember our Lord did not start as a baby in a manger, the depth of His humility becomes overwhelming. He who was without beginning was, in fact, the second person of the Godhead, clothed in majesty and glory and surrounded by angels singing His praises. Having laid aside his glory, He left heaven above for hell on earth, taking the form a servant . . . for you. I cannot think of a better picture of humility than for the Creator of the universe to be born in a manger because there was no room for Him in the inn. There was no pomp and circumstance . . . no parades and celebrations. This was a foreshadowing of the life He was to live here on this earth.
Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20)
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.(2 Corinthians 8:9)
The humble beginning of our Master born in the manger shows the entire world His humility. What started in humility ended in humiliation as our Lord hung naked on the cross, hour after agonizing hour, until He gave up the Ghost and was laid to rest in a borrowed tomb. His humility leads us to His approachability.
The humble beginning of our Lord in a manger is an open invitation to all who will come. Had our Jesus been born in a splendid palace, only those of noble birth would be able to approach Him. But being born in a manger makes Him approachable to all, regardless of their station in life. The same is true today. You do not need to be born into a family of princely pedigree to approach Him. You do not need to be born into high society to approach Him. You do not need to be born on the right side of the tracks (wherever that is) to approach Him. You need only to be born again according to the mercy and grace of the Almighty to approach Him.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3)
Think about the outcasts of society that were welcomed in approaching our Lord from the cradle to the cross. The angel made the first announcement of the birth of our Lord to shepherds. Unlike in the day of David, the shepherd boy who was chosen by God to be king, shepherds were among the most despised social groups in Judea. They were religious outcasts and barred from worship in the Temple. No respectable Jew would have anything to do with these unsavory individuals. But in God’s economy, they were the first to hear about the birth of our Savior.
How about the Samaritan woman at the well? This “woman of the night,” who had been married five times, was another social outcast who was able to approach our Lord and find Living Water. Tax collectors, of whom Zaccheus was chief in Jericho, were hated by the Jews for working with the Roman government, adding insult to injury by levying extra taxes on their own people to line their filthy pockets. And yet Zaccheus was able to approach Jesus. Jesus called Matthew, another tax collector, to be one of His twelve disciples. And as He hung on the cross, one of the two sinners who hung alongside Him approached Him, asking to be remembered. Crucifixion was reserved for the worst kind of criminal, yet the thief on the cross sensed the approachability of Jesus.
Unsavory shepherds, unscrupulous tax collectors, and unwanted sinners of society were welcomed by Jesus. The sick were welcomed. The broken hearted were welcomed. The hurting and downcast were welcomed. The poor were welcomed. The foolish were welcomed. The only ones who were not welcomed were those who believed they were in no need of a Savior because their own righteousness would save them.
Jesus . . . said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)
It is my prayer this Christmas season that your heart would be moved by the miracle, majesty, and mystery of our Master in a manger. Misfits and outcasts were attracted to our humble Lord because they were able to approach Him from any direction. They knew they were great sinners. They also knew they had a greater Savior . . . and His name is Jesus Christ.
Merry Christmas to you and yours. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”