Summary: The Manger is a Sign that God often does big things in a small way.
Luke 2:1-14 December 24, 2006
The Sign of the Manger
The sign of the manger – a sign of the Kingdom of God – a sign of the economy of God
The manger is a sign
At it’s basic level, the manger was a sign to the shepherds so that they would know that they had the right baby – there are not too many babies laying around in mangers. But I believe it was more than that: I believe that the child in the manger is a sign of the way that God does things – he does big things in small ways.
1) It was a sign to the shepherds, the poor and powerless in the world.
-the Kingdom of God belongs to you.
The fact that God chose to come into the world as one of the poor is a sign of solidarity with the poor.
Just as the manger was a sign to the shepherds, the shepherds are a sign to us.
- Shepherds were a despised people
- their lifestyle mitigated against religious observance - ceremonially unclean
- not to careful to distinguish between ’mine’ and ’thine’
- barred from giving evidence in court
It amazes me that the angels appear to them and not to the people in the temple. This is the greatest news in the history of the world! The Savior has come!
Instead God comes to a group of people who wouldn’t even be allowed in the temple. If the angels were looking for someone to tell today, I think that they would go to the young guys hanging out in the parking lot of the Ontario housing building.
There were two groups of people who were not trusted to give testimony in 1st century Palestine – shepherds and women. The first ones to be told of Jesus’ birth were shepherds, the first ones to be told of his resurrection were the women. This teaches us something about how God works.
The shepherds are a sign that God loves the outcast - those that society has no time for
There are others who know about this miracle birth
The humblest of people catch a glimpse of their worth
For it isn’t to the palace that the Christ child comes
But to shepherds and street people, hookers and bums
And the message is clear if you’ve got [you have] ears to hear
That forgiveness is given for your guilt and your fear
It’s a Christmas gift [that] you don’t have to buy
There’s a future shining in a baby’s eyes
– Bruce Cockburn, Cry of a Tiny Babe, from Nothing but a burning Light
2) The parents are a sign to us
- by law, Mary didn’t have to come with Joseph - maybe he was worried for her safety - by law she could be stoned.
"no room in the Inn" - different scenarios
- usual picture, nice old innkeeper with no room, would most likely have made room for the right price - maybe even holding out hoping that a wealthy person might come along
Mary and Joseph are poor - offer poor person’s offering in the temple when they present Jesus
- "No room for your kind!" - Nazareth, poor, pregnant
- could be interpreted as a room in a relative’s home - put out because of shame.
- End up on the street - stable: Shelter for animals, cave, courtyard of the inn -really just a manger mentioned
The King of eternity does not come as one of the rich and powerful, but as one of the least
God works through the poor and insignificant to do amazing things
This is why Mary Sings when she greets Elizabeth in Chapter 1
And Mary said:
"My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors."
The King of all kings is not born in a palace but in a stable. Jesus power is not like our power.
3) The manger is a sign to us.
We often want God to do things in a big way and we forget that God does big things in small ways.