Summary: A manger was an animal feeding trough, which tells us three things about Jesus's birth on earth.
The Miracle of the Manger
TEXT: Luke 2:1-7 – “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”
What would Christmas be without Christmas songs? Illus. – One time a little boy and a little girl were singing their favorite Christmas carol in church the Sunday before Christmas. The boy concluded “Silent Night” with these words, “sleep in heavenly beans.” His sister elbowed him, and said, “No. Not beans, peas!”
The way many of us feel by the time Christmas rolls around, the song might just as well end with beans OR peas instead of “peace”! Sometimes in the frantic rush to get everything done, the peace of the season seems to elude us. Especially if you’re a mom.
SONG: Here’s a song titled “A Busy Mother’s Version of the Twelve Days of Christmas”:
On the twelfth day do Christmas
My littlest love gave to me…
Twelve dogs a-leaping
Eleven cats a-creeping,
Ten fingers gripping,
Nine toes a-tripping,
Eight drinks a-spilling
Seven glasses filling,
Six friends and things,
Five telephone rings,
Four crayoned walls,
Three loud calls,
Two kisses free,
And one mother up a pear tree!
How many of you moms out there can relate to that version of the song? Well, I hope this Christmas season things won’t be that busy and harried!
Our Bible text today is part of the simple, unadorned story of the birth of Jesus on earth. That Christmas night when Jesus was born was a night of miracles.
Think about it:
• The star leading the wise men to Jesus was a miracle.
• The spectacular display by the angels in the sky over the fields where the shepherds were was also truly a miracle.
• The timing of Caesar’s tax so that it brought Joseph and Mary to where prophecy could be fulfilled, and God’s plan of salvation could begin to unfold was a miracle.
• The fact that Jesus was born in Bethlehem was a miracle, fulfilling one of many prophecies about the birth of the Messiah.
• And, of course, the virgin birth and the incarnation (i.e., God coming to earth as a man) themselves were incredible miracles.
Everything about the first Christmas night reminds us that it was a night of miracles
But one of the most remarkable things to me was THE MIRACLE OF THE MANGER. Look in our text at verse 7 – “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Now the word manger has morphed to mean a stable where animals are kept, but actually scholars tell us the word translated “manger” literally means an animal feeding trough. The idea of Jesus being born in a stable or a cave may be true, but the Bible doesn't’ really say that. This tradition has grown up simply because of Luke’s reference to Jesus being laid in a feeding trough.
But I wonder…
• Why was Jesus in a feeding trough to begin with?
Was this not the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?
Was He not THE VERY GOD OF THE UNIVERSE?
• Why was Jesus not wrapped in the regal garments of royalty befitting His glory?
• Why was He not placed in a beautiful, gold-carved cradle in a rich man’s mansion, instead of a lowly feeding trough for sheep in a cave or a stable?
I believe the manger pictures three important truths about Jesus, so let’s unpack them today:
I. FIRST, THE MANGER PERFECTLY PICTURES JESUS’ REJECTION
You see, there was no room for Jesus in the inn.
There was room for BUSINESS in the inn.
There was room for PLEASURE in the inn.
There was room for OTHERS in the inn.
But there was no room in the inn for Jesus. So SOMEPLACE had to be found, for Mary was going into labor at any time! Perhaps she was already in labor when someone, seeing their desperate situation, offered his stable where he kept his animals.