Away in a Manger

We have long marveled that God’s Son was born, not in a palace, but with farm animals!  Minute details of His birth had been foretold centuries before. It is doubtful  that Jesus accidentally made His entrance to earth on a night when Bethlehem was crowded with people there to register for the same census as Mary and Joseph.

Jesus was royalty. His ancestry was traced all the way back to Adam in Luke 3, and to Abraham, in Matthew 1. But from the beginning He identified Himself with the outcast, marginalized, and oppressed. Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” It is no accident Jesus’ birth was orchestrated to underscore this.

The stone mangers such as the one Jesus was likely placed in, were used at Migdal Eder, the Tower of the Flock, just outside Bethlehem. When they weren’t being used as feeding troughs, they were utilized for the sacrificial lambs.   The newborn lambs that were inspected and deemed perfect, without blemish, were wrapped in strips of cloth to keep them from injuring themselves.   They were then placed in a manger for safekeeping until they were calm, when they could be given to their mothers for feeding. At the proper time, they would be sacrificed for sin, according to the law given to Moses by God. (See posts “The Savior is Born”, December 25, 2020, and “Shepherds Keeping Watch”, December 26, 2020.)

Why would God choose to announce the birth of His Son, not to kings or priests, but to humble shepherds? Among other reasons we might think of, these shepherds would have known instantly what the sign was that the angel referred to in Luke 2:12, when he told them the baby was wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. HE WAS TO BE THE SACRIFICE — THE PERFECT LAMB WITHOUT BLEMISH! When Jesus grew to manhood, He was announced by John the Baptist as the “Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). 

This is what Jesus, Himself, said:

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through HIm. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.” John 3:16-18 NLT

I pray that this Christmas season, we will all spend time at the Manger, contemplating the great gift God has given us in His Son — “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

Categories: Christmas Story

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