Summary: This sermon focuses on the location of the Christ - in the manger - and what significance that has to us today as we prepare for Christmas.
December 14, 2005 The Third Sign of Christmas to Come: Lying in a Manger
Luke 2:12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.
People don’t normally do their Christmas shopping at Burger King. They go there to eat a Whopper and some fries and usually don’t expect much more. You don’t expect to find true love at Burger King or vacuum cleaners for sale. If I told you as much, you would think I was nuts.
How much more strange is this third sign of Christmas to come? To find the Messiah of the world - not only as a baby - wrapped in common cloths - but also lying in a manger? Humans don’t normally go rummaging through mangers. A manger was a man made trough either carved into some stone or made out of wood - in which they placed hay for animals to eat out of. The cattle and the donkeys would go there looking for hay - because that’s what mangers were made for. They weren’t made for babies - much less future kings. The angel had just told the shepherds that this baby was the Savior, Christ the Lord. Since David was a shepherd and was found out among the animals - this might make some sense. Yet David was also a king - so you would expect more of his offspring. Yet today we’ll see how ~
The Manger is the Perfect Place for the Messiah to Be Found
I. It is a filthy place
2 Samuel chapter 7 shows King David living comfortably in his palace, while the ark of God remained in a tent. He didn’t think that was right, because God promised to be present within the ark. He was living in a palace while God was “living” in a tent. He wanted to build a temple for the ark. That night, God replied to Nathan the prophet,
“Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’. . . I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. . . . When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
The answer of God was, “I don’t need a house to live in - but YOU do. I will send an offspring through you who will have an ETERNAL kingdom.” From a first read, it would appear that this kingdom of David and his reign would go on forever. Yet history proved different. As David’s seemingly last successor - Zedekiah - had his children put to death in front of him before his eyes were plucked out and he was taken into captivity (Jeremiah 39:5), it seemed painfully obvious that David’s physical kingdom would not last forever. The future Messiah would not be able to be born in a palace, because the kingdom of David did not have a palace to be born in. The natural conclusion, then, would be that either no Messiah was coming, or that Messiah would have to be born in a house of some sort - to at least have a nice roof over his head with a little children’s mattress. Something even more humbling happened. The Messiah was born in a cattle stall. That which was built to hold hay - filled with bugs, dirt, and cow slobber - was used to hold salvation. There was no where else to put Him - so a manger had to do.
The first place that Jesus had to lay his head - in the cattle stall - was a sign of things to come. John 1:10-11 said, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” His fellow Jews didn’t want anything to do with Jesus. When he spoke in the synogogues or cleansed the temple, the religious leaders couldn’t get rid of Him quickly enough. Throughout His whole life Jesus would experience people who couldn’t make room for Him and wouldn’t make room for Him. You might remember the story of Jesus calling men to follow Him.