Summary: What can the story of a baby born in a manger tell us about being a servant like Jesus would want us to be?
OPEN: There’s a story about church whose Sunday School decided to allow the children to stage their own impromptu Christmas pageant. The teachers read the story and provided some props; then they just stood off to the side and let the kids dramatize it on their own.
One girl grabbed the doll and said, “I’ll be Mary.”
Another said, “I’ll be Joseph,”
Some scampered for the bathrobes and said, “I’ll be a shepherd.”
Everyone was either a lamb, or a wise man, or an angel or something else.
But one little girl had no part, so she said, “I’ll be the doctor who delivered the baby Jesus.”
They all took their places.
Mary had a sofa pillow with a baby doll tucked under her shirt and Joseph led her to the inn where they were rejected. When the time came, the “doctor” took the doll from Mary’s pillow and held it up.
Joseph, wanting to act like a new papa said, “What is it, doc?”
And the little doctor smiled and said, “Why it’s a…God.”
(David O. Dykes, sermoncentral.com)
APPLY: Jesus was God in the flesh. He was born into this world in a human body but He’d always been God. Before His virgin birth, He’d sat in majesty in heaven. He could call upon 1000s upon 1000s of angels to do His bidding. And – with just a word – He could change the course of mighty rivers or crush the power of huge nations.
Here was Jesus – God in the flesh – born in a Jewish town called Bethlehem.
Now, Bethlehem wasn’t a big community. In fact, according to one source:
“At the beginning of the first century AD, Bethlehem was a village with not more than a thousand inhabitants: a small set of houses scattered along the side of a ridge and protected by a wall that was in a bad state of repair, or even mostly demolished, since it had been built nearly a thousand years earlier”
So, Jesus was born in a poor backwater Jewish town.
And He was born in a barn to boot.
Have you ever been in a barn?
The ones I’ve been in have not been the cleanest places.
There’s often cobwebs all over the place And the smell is musty and dank and… well, they semll of manure. It’s a barn… that’s what barns are like.
People don’t live in barns. So folks don’t always clean them out.
So, Jesus is born in a barn… and placed in a feeding trough – a place where cattle ate.
Jesus - the God of all creation, the God who had had the ability to mobilize all of heaven with just a word, the Jesus who had walked on streets of gold and passed through gates of pearl. THIS Jesus the God of the universe - was born in a barn filled with farm animals and all their smells.
Now, I’m stressing all this so you’ll better understand our text this morning. The central focus of that passage is where Jesus tells His disciples “…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did NOT come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Matthew 20:26-28
Jesus came to be our servant.
And He calls us to be just like Him.
To be a servant of others… just like He was for us.
But how do I do that? How can I become a servant to others like Jesus was for me?
As I studied this text and thought about the Christmas season, three things occurred to me.
1st – if we’re going to become a servant like Jesus, we’ve got to be willing to a little get dirty.
Being born in a barn is a pretty dirty place to be.
They’re not sterile, they’re not a good place for a baby to be born.
Just think about it: when was the last time you were at a OB ward and saw a few bales of hay sitting around? Or saw a sheep or goat in the halls of the hospital?
A barn is a dirty place to give birth to give birth to a child.
One man made this observation:
The birthing process was messy.
Barns that housed animals were pretty messy, too.
Kind of like our lives.
(Rick Brown, Heartlight.org, 12/20/11)
Jesus came to earth to get dirty.
Not only was He born in a dirty stable and placed in a dirty manger, during His ministry He spent His time with dirty people. People no one else would touch.
The lame, the sick, the Lepers, a woman unclean because of an issue of blood. Then there were the prostitutes, the tax collectors, and the all around general “sinners”.