Why the Manger matters

So, now we know why I, at least, think the Wise Men and the Shepherds matter in the Nativity narrative. So, what is the big deal about the Messiah being born in a manger?

The Manger is so important to the narrative. It is the marked difference between earthly kings and a Heavenly One.

What the manger shows is the sheer contempt that God has for the riches of this world. Where all other kings gather riches and comfort to themselves, almost always to the detriment of their people, the King of Kings decides to be born with no comfort beyond hay and a rough trough made out of stone. The Son of Man became the poorest of the poor, and the manger reminds us of this, for Jesus was to live through human suffering and wretchedness.

What the manger shows is that even at his birth, the Savior was not wanted by the world. Where the average baby was born in a home, surrounded by loving parents and family members eager to welcome the new child in, Jesus Christ was born with just his parents in attendance.

What the manger shows is that even in the Savior’s birth, the world despised him. Being turned away from the innkeeper, a pregnant Mary had no recourse but to give birth in this shelter for animals. Not only at his birth did the world turn their back on Jesus, but he was placed upon a rough wooden cross to die and then was buried in a borrowed tomb. The world has showed it’s contempt for the Messiah since the very beginning of his earthly life.

What the manger shows is the world does not know how to handle a Heavenly King. Everything a earthly king would have gotten when born was denied to the Son of God, and He came of His own free will to save us.

There is unimaginable beauty in the fact that a Godly King chose to be born as a baby to a virgin mother and a father who worked with his hands, creating. There is beauty that even when denied the adoration demanded of a kingly birth, nature and heaven still praised him. The lowly shepherds and the pagan wise men were the only ones who knew true deity when they saw it. They were the only ones to pay the earthly adoration demanded and were the only ones to bow before the newborn King.

Emmanuel, Jesus Christ, the Messiah and Savior of all mankind, was born in a stable. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a rough stone manger, making his bed among the animals. He came to save the world of it’s sins, and not one person opened their home to his mother, who was in need.

Would you have opened the door that night?

Take a moment and thank God for the manger your Savior was laid in. For even though God held in contempt the riches of the world, he did not hold us in that same distaste.

This is what a manger would have looked like when Jesus was born. It wouldn't be these wooden ones that are so prevalent in today's pictures of the birth. Rather it would be stone, so strong hungry animals couldn't push it over.  Not very comfy looking even filled with hay, huh?

This is what a manger would have looked like when Jesus was born. It wouldn’t be these wooden ones that are so prevalent in today’s pictures of the birth. Rather it would be stone, so strong hungry animals couldn’t push it over.
Not very comfy looking even filled with hay, huh?

Luke 2 

The Birth of Jesus

 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole empire should be registered. This first registration took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So everyone went to be registered, each to his own town.

And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough (a manger)—because there was no room for them at the lodging place.

Contemplations on Proverbs 30:7-9

Two things I ask of you, LordDo not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches, But give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you And say, “Who is the Lord?” Or I may become poor and steal And so dishonor  the name of my God. (Proverbs 30:7-9)

As I had written previously in “The Beauty of God’s Scriptures,” I have been reading daily through Psalms and Proverbs. I have been driven to contemplations over various verses that I have read numerous times. By taking the time to focus on them, I have been repeatedly struck by the amazing truth to be found within the pages I read. I was especially struck this time by Proverbs 30:7-9. I know I’ve read it before, but as is the mystery of the Scriptures, verses bring new meaning to your life at various parts of your spiritual walk.

So, reading Proverbs 30:7-9 really struck me. In today’s American society where we are so focused on making money and so very materialistic, “I may have too much and disown you and say “Who is the Lord?” “ really hit home.  Even though I might not consider myself very materialistic, still I can get caught in that feather noose (usually its books for me). When the TV has numerous shows exhibiting what happens to people drowning in a materialistic world bookended in commercials advertising the newest greatest thing; there is a problem.  America, more than any other culture, is about things. Love doesn’t make the world go round in America, the newest thing does.

I am not a basher of America. I love America, but I know her faults too. I’ve lived here all my life and believe me, there are things I wish I could change. Materialism is one of them.

We, as a nation, have too much and we have turned our backs on God.

When I, as a person, am more than comfortable financially, I find myself loosing track of God in my life. It is the nature of human sin.

The flip side though is what happens when we don’t have enough? What happens if we are so poor that we have to steal to eat? We dishonor the name of our God. Not only is the simple act of stealing a sin (see the 10 Commandments in Deuteronomy 5:19), but it goes deeper than that, it’s about dishonoring God’s name. The thought of dishonoring the God who has given me so much, causes a bit of anxiety to well within my soul. I hope it does you as well.

I believe these three verses are going to become a prayer for me. A prayer that will move me to act, to give of any funds God sees fit to give me so that I might help a fellow man. To give of my riches even when I am attempting to make ends meet, for I am still richer than many. To give of myself no matter how much money is in my bank account. To give of anything that I can, so that another person may not feel ashamed of their own misfortune.

This section of Proverbs really hit home. What does it make you feel?