Summary: God's Plan, Humility, Sacrifice
THEN AND NOW – The Manger Becomes the Cross
Luke 2:1-7 (pg. 715) December 6, 2015
An anonymous poet wrote:
“A baby born in Bethlehem
His hands, soft and gently curled
But held within their dimpled grasp
The hope of the entire world.”
Have you ever noticed that when famous people have a baby the world goes a little crazy...when Prince William and Kate Middleton have a child it’s a worldwide celebration that is front page news. When Prince George was born in July of 2013 the press went crazy and when his sister Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana joined him in May of this year...the world cheered...They seem like a beautiful couple...sincerely in love...but I’m pretty sure all the notoriety can be tiresome. I’m sure the continuous pursuit of the paparazzi is draining.
This was not a problem that Mary and Joseph had to endure. The world couldn’t have cared less about the birth of a little Jewish baby to a working class carpenter and his young wife...I promise you that the world was focused on Caesar Augustus...and his census...and more importantly the taxes that went along with it.
Rome and everything under its control was focused on getting home, how much trouble it would be, and how much it was going to cost to do it. Who cares about babies when important stuff like this is happening.
“Everyone went to their own town to register.” Rome didn’t care whether you were pregnant, poor or not...This was not a request...it was an order issued by Caesar...and carried out by governors like Quirinius of Syria.
So Joseph and Mary leave Nazareth in Galilee and head to his hometown of Bethlehem in Judea...it’s a trip of about 90 miles, through rugged terrain....in the weather....it would take them about a week. The Bible doesn’t tell us whether Mary rode or they both walked. Just that they got there. We don’t know how long before the birth they arrived, just “while they were there the time came for the baby to be born.” (v. 7)
Even if they arrived a month early Mary was 33-36 weeks pregnant...during the trip.
[The only time I feared for my life concerning my wife Kari was during the birth of our second son Tyler. She’d been in labor for 20 hours...not much sleep, a lot of discomfort and we were trying breathing exercises to take her mind off of it...and it struck me as funny...(I know, like getting tickled at a funeral) I couldn’t help it and I laughed...she grabbed me by the neck and said, “If you laugh again...I will kill you!” I said, “Yes, honey and didn’t.]
Tyler was fine, so was Kari...and in a clean sterile hospital, Central Baptist...our baby was cared for...and so were we...but
I. FOR THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD THERE WAS NO ROOM
There is no innkeeper turning them away in scripture...we don’t know if Jesus was born in a stable or a cave or animal yard...We don’t know if angels looked on with animals...or even what time of day it was...but we do know...
“There was no guest room available for them.”
Bethlehem was packed with people...everyone had come back home to complete the census. And no one gave up their bed...no one made space for this couple...and the birth of this child...There was no room.
It is hard for me to imagine a more humble birth than this. It’s hard for me to imagine Cyndi and Rodney showing up at the hospital, she is in pain, Rodney with great concern for his wife and Brix...and being turned away...“There’s no room, sorry...figure it out on your own.”
So Joseph and Mary did, she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger.
A manger...an animal feeding trough.
The angel would send the shepherds later telling them:
“Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah the Lord. This will be a sign to you. You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12)
Signs are really, really important. They tell us what’s coming...whether it’s STOP, Road Work, or Dead End.
You see the sign first...and then comes the reality...Signs deliver information about things coming up...If you don’t ignore them.
The Shepherds didn’t...neither should we. The sign was important then and it’s important NOW.
What kind of sign is a manger?
II. IT’S A GOOD NEWS SIGN FOR EVERYONE
The real meaning of Christmas is found in God’s plan to save mankind from their sins...not only does Christmas involve the manger story...it also points to a cross...one wooden object would hold “Mary’s newborn Lamb”...and one wooden object would hold the perfect Lamb of God, dying then to take away the sins of the world. The real meaning of Christmas is the miraculous story of God’s plan to rescue us by becoming one of us...Immanuel!