Summary: One of the most puzzling facts of Christmas is that God, when He came to earth & took upon Himself human form, was born in a stable. Why? Were there not more appropriate places for the Son of God?
THE MYSTERY OF THE MANGER
A SOLUTION FOR THE STABLE
LUKE 2: 1-7
Seven year old Johnny yelled “Daddy, guess what’s missing?” The front lawn rang with excitement as the family put the life-size manger scene in place.
“What?” his father asked while he finished fastening Joseph to a stake for support.
“It’s baby Jesus,” Johnny replied, twisting his face into a frown. “Daddy, if we can’t find Jesus, there’s no need for us to put up the manger scene at all.”
Seven year old Johnny is right. If we cannot include Jesus in our Christmas, then there is no reason to celebrate Christmas at all.
What does Christmas mean to you? What does this Christmas mean to you? Is it a season to fill your life with more worldly things? A time to be filled with all the desirables this life offers? What did Christmas mean to Him who brought the celebration about? Christmas initially meant "no vacancy" to Jesus and His family.
We can learn a lot by listening to children. A little girl was helping her mother unpack the NATIVITY SET and set it up. As she unpacked each of the pieces she said, “Here’s Mary and Joseph.” When she got the figurine of Jesus in the manger she said, “And here’s the baby Jesus in His car seat.” In today’s antiseptic world we may not clearly understand what a stable and manger were.
One of the most puzzling facts of Christmas is that God, when He came to earth and took upon Himself human form, was born in a stable. Why? As Prince of Peace He could have chosen a palace, but He didn’t. Let us look into the mystery of the manger and find a solution for the stable.
Stables and mangers are filthy places. They are places for farm animals, not humans and especially not babes. Mary and Joseph might have cleaned out the remaining messes deposited by the previous occupants of the barn, but still the foul odor and earthiness would have clung to the place.
I. MY HEART
Yet, one time I wondered something very similar concerning Jesus and me. When Christ Jesus was knocking at the door of my heart, I wondered why would God desire to come live in me? The heart of an unsaved person, the prophet Jeremiah says, "is deceitful above all things" (17:9). At first that word of truth seems unpalatable. It is not too tasty a morsel but we have to digest it. Yes, it is the same picture Jesus painted of the unsaved person’s heart.
Jesus says in Matthew 15:16-20, “Jesus said, “Are you still lacking in understanding also? (17) “Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? (18) “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. (19) “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. (20) “These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.” (NAS)
No matter how we try to clothe or perfume the fact or even clean up our act, it can not be disguised. The human heart still has a foul odor clinging to it.
We wouldn’t invite our friends to dine with us in a stable. We would invite them into our homes. And so it is with our hearts, in that we don’t open them readily to our fellow man. We rather have them see our nice, clean living room, our clothed and perfumed exteriors, than inspect our smelly stables.
God knows what we are like--far better than we even know ourselves. He sees us in the light of His holiness, yet He still loves us (Rom. 5:8). And yes, He is willing to be invited into our dark heart where we live.
Jesus Christ, the exalted Lord of Heaven and Earth, humbled Himself and was born in a filthy stable. God knew what kind of world into which He was coming. It was a world ruled by men. A world full of cruelty, greed, strife, warring, selfishness; in short, a world of sin. If He had wanted the purest, the best place, He would have stayed in heaven. But the purity of God in a sin sickened world is well represented by a pure, innocent baby in a stable.
II. LAMB OF GOD
But there is another reason Christ was born in a stable. John the Baptist calls Jesus the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world (Jn. 1:29). From the beginning of man, God has made it plain that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin, no forgiveness of evil (Heb. 9:22). When Adam and Eve sinned the first sin God took one lamb and slew it. When God formed the nation of Israel, each year on Yom Kippur one pure innocent lamb was taken and slain for the sins of His people. Then blood redemption took its fullest form when God took one lamb, His Son, and slew Him for the sin of the world. Christ was the Lamb that was going to be sacrificed on the altar of the cross for us, taking our place as a substitute and receive our punishment, that forgiveness might be justly and freely offered.