Jesus and the Manger
Rev. Charles Westby, Pastor
Luke 2:7
December 24, 2019

Dear friends in Christ Jesus, there are many important things said in God’s Word about the birth of Christ, the Messiah. We hear about who He is: the Son of King David, the royal heir to David’s throne; Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of peace; that He is Immanuel in His own person, that is, God with us; that he was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

We also hear what He came to do: He will save us from our sins, from God’s judgment. He will raise us from death in eternal life. He is the promise of God’s grace and mercy and commitment to us.

In all of what God’s Word says about Him and His birth, there is another important passage. It is this: “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7 ESV).

Upon His birth, Mary laid Jesus Christ in a manger. All the things we have just said about Him are true. Yet, at His birth, He is laid in a manger. Why? Because there was no place, no room for them in the inn.

We know that Joseph and Mary were required by the Roman authorities to go to Joseph’s ancestral home to register, undoubtedly for tax purposes. Many others were going there as well. They go to Bethlehem, the ancestral town of King David. Mary is carrying the promised Son of King David, who is also God the Son in human flesh appearing.

It was promised by God through the Prophet Micah that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem: “But you Bethlehem . . . , though you are little among the thousands of Judah, . . . out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2 NKJV).

This One who is to be ruler arrives in Bethlehem as promised by God. But there is no place for Him; no room.

Scholars will explain that this is because many other people also had to go to Bethlehem to register. It’s a small town. There are just too many people. There is not enough lodging.

But wait. Even on human terms, if this person were a royal, an heir to the throne, there would have been a room, a warm comfy place, the best place in town, acquisitioned for Him.

And what is God doing? Certainly, if this child was God’s Son in the flesh appearing, God would have arranged it so that Jesus would have had the best and finest, most comfy bed in town, right? And Mary would not have had to deliver her child, her first born alone, with only the aid of Joseph. And who knew whether Joseph knew anything about delivering a baby.

But there it is. There is no place, no room, for the King of kings, the Son of God. So, Mary had to lay this child in a manger. It probably looked like a crib and served quite well for that purpose, once you took the hay or other feed out of it. The manger was a feeding trough for livestock.

There was no room for Mary, Joseph, and the King of kings, where the humans were lodging. There was only room where the animals were kept.

Here we see that the Lord of heaven and earth did not come into this world in the surroundings and trappings of earthly glory and comfort appropriate for royalty. His bed was not composed of comfy cushions, smooth sheets, and warm blankets in the best room in town. His birth was not announced by the angels to the ruling and wealthy classes, to the most important people, on worldly terms.

In our time we would be saying that there was no press conference and no party thrown where the invitations had gone out to celebrities of both political and popular fame. The angels—what a sight—were not sent by God to announce His birth to such “important” people.

The angels were sent to shepherds; the shepherds were just doing their jobs tending the flocks through the night. And there was not much glory for them in just doing their jobs.

We behold this evening the wonder of it and the grace and mercy, because we behold who He is, and yet the surroundings in which He was born. He is the possessor of all glory and honor and power and might. The cattle on a thousand hills belongs to Him, as the Psalmist says. Yet, He is born humble, finding no place of human lodging, being laid for His bed in a feeding trough for animals.

He comes in humility so the lowliest of the low can claim Him; or, rather, He can claim them; and, therefore, anyone in need of His ministry can claim Him; or, rather, He can claim them. He comes in humility so that anyone who recognizes their need can approach Him and He welcomes them.

He comes not in the power of kings with sword and law and threats to drive us into obedience. He comes in vulnerability to meet us and win our hearts by His love. You and I cannot approach the wealthy and powerful. You and I cannot approach royalty. But here He is, the King of kings, and we can approach Him; indeed, He approaches us. And He came in such humility so that when we are in the low place, He is Immanuel there for us.

No one doubts that God is with him or her when things are going great, right? Yet, He comes in hardship and lowliness so that we can be sure He is Immanuel with us always, even in the lows of life. In His humility, He comes in mercy and grace for anyone who longs for mercy and grace from God. He was laid in a manger so it could be true that He comes for you and me.

Friends, the grace mercy and peace of the Christ child, and God’s love demonstrated through Him, be with you this night and throughout the year.

Amen.  



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