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Summary: There are many mysteries surrounding the Christmas story, but to me the greatest mystery may be why Jesus was laid in a manger. This sermon show that the manger show the REJECTION of Christ, His REDEMPTION and His REACHABLENESS.

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The Mystery of the Manger

Chuck Sligh

December 7, 2014

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.”

INTRODUCTION

A big mystery of Christmas is how kids manage to mangle the words of Christmas songs.

Illus. – On another occasion, after Johnnie, who had a little sister named Olive, asked for a candy snack, his mom said, “I’ll give you one if you can name two of Santa’s reindeer.”

He said, “Well, there’s Rudolf…” and then he drew a blank.

Suddenly he shouted, “Oh, I know! The other reindeer’s name is OLIVE!”

“Olive?” his mom said. “What makes you think one was named after your sister?”

“You know,” he said, and he began to sing, “’Olive,’ the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names...”

Even adults encounter some mysteries at Christmas.

Illus. – In a small Southern town there was a beautifully crafted nativity scene. A Northerner passing by stopped to see it, but was mystified when he saw that the three wise men were all wearing firemen’s helmets. Unable to conceive of any reasonable explanation, he finally left in bewilderment.

Stopping at a Quick Stop on the edge of town, he asked the lady behind the counter about the helmets.

She said, “Why, you Yankees never read the Bible, do you?”

The Northerner happened to be a pastor, so he said, “I don’t know about other Northerners, but I assure you that I do indeed read my Bible every day and I certainly don’t recall anything about FIREMEN in the Bible!”

With all seriousness, she looked condescendingly at the Northerner and said, “Sir, it says right there in the Good Book, ‘the three wise men came from afar.’”

Ah…the mysteries of Christmas.

The first Christmas night, when Jesus was born, was a night of many mysteries—real mysteries, but the humorous kind I’ve been joking about.

Think about it:

• A mysterious star in the sky never seen before.

• Mysterious visitors from the East following that star.

• Mysterious visitations of angels.

• Mysterious dreams and visions.

• The mystery of a pregnant woman who had never been with a man!

• And the greatest mystery of all—the Incarnation: that God would come to this earth as a human to suffer and die and bear the sins of those who despised and rejected him!

Everything about the first Christmas reminds us that it was a strange night of miracles and mystery.

But one of the most compelling mysteries to me is THE MYSTERY 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—probably something like one of these picture in the sermon slides. 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 here’s the mystery…

• 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 He not placed in a beautiful, gold-carved cradle in a rich man’s mansion, instead of a lowly feeding trough for sheep or cattle in a cave or a stable to common labor folk?

The manger captures for us three important truths about Jesus, so let’s unravel the mystery of the manger this morning:

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.

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