Summary: A Christmas Sermon focusing on the Christian Identity.
PEOPLE OF THE MANGER
INTRODUCTION: A few years ago there was an art contest held in a local school one Christmas season in East Texas/Southern Alabama. One of the prize winners was a picture drawn by a nine year old boy showing three men, offering gifts to the baby Jesus as He lay in His manger. What made the picture unique is how the three gift givers arrived – parked next to the manger was fire truck. The principle asked the boy about his decision to draw the truck and the boy, in his heavy East-Texas/Southern Alabama accent, replied: "Well, the Bible says the wise men came from a-far." READ TEXT
For centuries, Christians have called themselves People of the Cross, People of the Book. Some time back I presented a lesson that suggested we also call ourselves People of the Empty Tomb. Today as we consider the birth of Jesus we might also consider calling ourselves People of the Manger. The Manger is an intregal part of the life of Jesus. You see without the manger, the cross and the book would not matter. It is the epitome of all that Jesus would be. Two lessons from the manger…
I. THE MANGER EXEMPLIFIES THE NATURE OF JESUS
A. Maybe it is just human nature, but man tends to covet the bright and shiny things of this world. We enjoy the pomp and circumstance. We revel in the regalia, the prestige that the finer things in life can bring us. Consequently it is often difficult to embrace anything less, and the Jews of Jesus day were no different.
1. They loved the finery of life, if fact they clamored for it. And their lust for the bright and shiny things of the world was spurred by their longing to return to glory days of their past. (Expound upon Roman rule and humiliation of subjection they suffered.) So as they were anticipating a Messiah they expected one who would return Israel to the days of glory, pageantry and wealth.
2. To them, the very idea that the King, their Savior, would enter this world in the stench of a cattle barn and spend his early days sleeping in a feed trough was scandalous. In their mind it was an insult to all that Jehovah was, and also to all that they had been promised as His people.
3. Yet God does not work by human standards. He works by His own terms, and the Manger was and is an important part of His great plan to redeem mankind.
B. You see the manger set the tone for all that Jesus would be in this world. Yes He would come as a King, but not one set above His people. Rather, He would be one of us. He would live in society as we live. He would face the same struggles, the same troubles, the same desires and the same circumstances as most average, ordinary people do.
1. His life would begin, in a rather ordinary way, and would remain so until the day He took His last breath. His life, His ministry would be one of the traveling shepherd, the itinerate prophet, constantly tending to His flock. He would get down into the muck and mire of human existence and labor alongside his people.
2. He would keep company with tax-collectors, prostitutes, common laborers, and half-breeds because He did not consider Himself too good for them. Rather He knew that He was sent to be good to them and to provide a way for them to attain righteousness.
3. The manger set the tone for this, and we should be thankful because those whom He kept company with – they are us.
5. James 2:5, "God has chosen the poor of the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom"
II. THE MANGER EXEMPLIFIES HIS MISSION
A. We have been told for centuries that the manger was simply a feed-trough, a piece of wood or stone designed to contain an animal’s food. There is no doubt that the first bed the baby Jesus rested in was just that, but the entomology of the word translated "manger" suggests far more than just something designed hold cattle fodder.
1. In the Hebrew, which was most likely the language Jesus spoke, the root-word for manger means to feed, to fatten. So when the story was told in the first century, they would not only recognize the humble significance of the manger but also the spiritual significance as well.
2. Jesus began His life in a feed-trough because He had come to grant God’s creation its greatest blessing and that blessing was that Divinity was now living among men in the flesh sent to satisfy all our needs. Jesus was and is God’s gift designed for just that purpose.