Away in a Manger
It is kind of ironic that Christmas has become a holiday about extravagant gift giving. The commercials featuring new Lexus’s (or Lexi), jewelry, televisions, and other such goodies simply show how far Christmas has wandered from its original meaning and intention. Christmas is not about giving extravagance. It’s about one man who left behind extravagance to be a gift. On the very first Christmas the God entered into this world, leaving behind heaven. I have never seen heaven, but I can imagine that a world without sin and its effects is a lot more appealing to live in than this present creation. However that did not stop Jesus. He came to this earth leaving behind all he had to save us.
Before earth Jesus was a king. Many theologians believe that early incarnations of Jesus include the being that appeared to Joshua and wrestled with Jacob. Both of these appearances were described as awesome. The man that wrestled with Jacob dislocated his hip with a touch. The man that appeared to Joshua was decked out in full battle armor. Jesus has lived forever in the past in this sort of glory. However when he came to the earth he left behind all the pleasure and power of heaven to be with us. He left perfect communion with the Father and the Spirit. For love, Christ left heaven to die for us, so we could know him and be in paradise with him.
So Jesus came as a baby. He was born to a teenage girl, probably no more than 16. She was a virgin and her fiancé had a problem with her pregnancy as one would imagine. However God had put his mind to rest through a dream. Of course not everyone in their hometown had the same dream, so one can imagine that the wedding of pregnant Mary and Joseph was filled with a few snickers and snide comments whispered throughout the party.
Towards the end of Mary’s pregnancy the ruling Romans sent a decree throughout their empire for a census. Joseph had to return to his home town of Bethlehem in time for the census. Driving an incredibly pregnant woman around can be extremely difficult, but Joseph did not own a car. No he had a donkey, so Mary had to ride a donkey to Bethlehem very late in her pregnancy. After three days the couple arrived in Bethlehem. Joseph looked for a room for his very pregnant wife to rest in. Bethlehem was so crowded that there was no place for them to stay.
An innkeeper, probably trying to squeeze as much money out of this census rush as he could, said that there was room in his stable for them. It was there that Mary gave birth, amongst the hay, noise, and stench. Jesus Christ, our savior, was born in a stable in a little town and placed in a trough where the animals went to eat.
This event set the precedent for many hallmarks of Jesus’ ministry. The first being that our savior did not come into the world to condemn and conquer the world but rather to be life in it. A king who has come to conquer through pure force is not born in a manger. He is born where the three wise men went originally, the palace of the king. A king that has come to destroy his enemies does not attack without an army, yet Jesus never once called upon the powers of the angels to destroy his enemies. A king who has come to kill and destroy is not humble enough to be born as the illegitimate child of a teenager and her new husband.
In all of the extravagance of this holiday season make sure you take time to study the reason for this season. Too many Christians have no real understanding of why Jesus coming to earth was so significant. Take time in the word during this craziest season of the year. Take time to teach these words to your friends and children. Christmas is not about getting the best stuff. It is not about having the best times. It isn’t even about giving the best stuff. Christmas is about humility. The humility of Jesus Christ is incredible, and it should call us to humility. During this holiday season take some time to thank God for what he has done in your life. Thank him for coming as a humble baby, and not a condemning king. Thank God that he came to bring life. Consider that life, pray for more of it. Read the word, enjoy good cookies and warm cocoa with friends and family to the glory of God. But don’t forget that Jesus left the glory of heaven to die for you because he loves you.