Our Waiting Is Over! The Savior Is Born and Laid in a Manger
She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
When I was young, I thought manger meant “stable.” I was well into my adult years before I realized that a manger was a food trough for animals. Etymologically, manger is related to the French verb manger, which means “to eat.” Animals eat from a manger. No doubt Mary chose the manger in which to lay Jesus because its straw could make a relatively comfortable bed for a baby.
The manger powerfully emphasizes the humility of Jesus. The King of kings wasn’t born in a palace, where he might have been laid in a gilded cradle. He wasn’t even born in a home, as most children were in that day. No, he was an outsider from the beginning, one whose birth would have been embarrassing, even shameful for his parents. He entered this world in humility, one might even say in humiliation. Thus we have a foreshadowing of Jesus’ ultimate dishonor, not in a manger, but on a cross.
The manger paints a compelling image of the theology we find in Philippians 2:6-7:
Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
Jesus was born in a manger. Talk about giving up divine privileges! Talk about humility! Wow!
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Jesus’ first bed was a manger. How does that fact impact you? What difference does the humility of Jesus make in your life and work?
PRAYER: Gracious Lord Jesus, this Christmas Eve we begin our celebration. The waiting of Advent is over. Now we focus on the incredible good news of your birth.
We are amazed, Lord, that you came among us as a human being. Yet how much more astonishing that you were born in the humblest of settings, with a food trough as your first bed. All praise be to you, Lord Jesus, because you were willing to humble yourself for our sake.
Thank you, dear Lord, for becoming one of us, for entering into our weakness and vulnerability. You were just like us, only without sin. You understand what it’s like when we feel small and insignificant or when we feel unprotected and weak. All praise be to you, Lord Jesus, for your birth! We celebrate you this day and in the days to come. Merry Christmas, Lord! Amen.
If work is God’s gift to us and an invitation to participate with him in the work of redemption and restoration, it makes sense that we would experience grace and also be the conduits of grace in our work and workplaces. We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do good work. So, in this season of gift giving and celebrating the gift of grace through Jesus, join us as we consider how to find grace in our work this Advent, in the series, Advent Works.