Summary: What are the Biblical truths taught by this favorite Christmas carol?
Today, we are going to think on the Biblical message found in the .words of that wonderful Christmas carol, "Away In A Manger." A great deal of mystery has surrounded this familiar song of Christmas. One tradition has it that it was written by Martin Luther as a song to be sung to his children. Most students of hymnology dispute this claim, however. The earliest appearance of the text was in J.C. File’s Little Children’s Book, which was published by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of North America in 1945. Initially, the song consisted of two verses, until a third was later written by John Thomas McFarland. The tune was composed by James Murray.
The mystery of how the first two verses of this song came to be, ironically parallels the mystery associated with the event that the song celebrates. Too many people today have no idea of the true meaning of Christmas.
The message of this wonderful hymn, however, is intended to dispel the mystery associated with the birth of Christ. Here in these verses, we discover three truths, also found in the text of Galatians 4:4-5, that explain what the birth of Jesus was all about. This hymn tells us about:
1. The Nature Of Christ’s Coming - verse 1
Verse 1 declares two things about the nature of Christ’s birth, which are found in Galatians 4:4-5.
Christ’s coming was . . .
A. Supernatural - The writer of this hymn points out that, though it was a baby in the manger, that baby was LORD! This was something which the heavenly inhabitants readily recognized, "The stars in the sky all looked down where He lay."
Paul tells us that the supernatural aspect of Christ’s birth is seen in that:
1) He came at a divinely appointed time -
"But when the time had fully come ..."
There are over 300 prophecies that were recorded in the Old Testament over a long period of time and by many different prophets that were fulfilled the instant the Son of God was born as a babe in a manger to become the Savior of the world. Jesus was born at a divinely appointed time.
2) He came in a divinely anointed way -
"... God sent His Son . . ."
The coming of Christ into this world was a work of God.
“‘Don’t be afraid, Mary,’ the angel told her, ‘for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!’ Mary asked the angel, ‘But how can this happen? I am a virgin.’ The angel replied, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.’” - Luke 1:29-35 (NLT)
Jesus was God come in human form. That’s why He came as He did, born of a virgin, conceived by the Holy Spirit!
B. Natural - Though the babe born in Bethlehem so long ago came into this world through supernatural means, his coming was also very natural, as the writer of this hymn makes clear.
1) He was born as are all men -
". . . born of a woman ..."
Jesus lived as all men do. He experienced the limitations of humanity. He grew weary. He experienced pain. He shed tears. He lost loved ones. He laughed and He cried. Though He was divine, He was no less human; and as a human . . .
2) He was burdened as are all men -
"... born under law ..."
Jesus faced the prospect of living up to the standard of righteousness required by the law of God. Unlike you and I, however, He fulfilled the requirements of the law in that He knew no sin.
“We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all - all but the sin.” - Hebrews 4:15 (The Message)
Humphrey the humpback whale be¬came a national celebrity. Humphrey became the focus of the network news media when he made his way into the San Francisco Bay and headed up the Sacramento River. Not turning back would be a deadly mistake.
Many attempted to get Humphrey to turn around and go back to the salt-water environment of the ocean which was essential to his survival. Humphrey was finally lured into turning around by the recording of other humpback whales. You see, it takes a whale to talk to whales!