Not a Picture-Perfect Manger

A response to Then Came Jesus by Lara Williams :: Week 1, Day 4


And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (‭Luke‬ ‭2‬:‭1-7‬ NKJV)

Beautiful. Breath-taking. Angels singing. Mary’s calm, smiling face. A peaceful Baby. A carefree Joseph.  Stars shining. Squeaky clean hay.  A never before-used manger.  A well-lit and warm stable.  Blankets and fluffy pillows of straw.  This is usually what I picture when I think of the birth of Christ, but I’m probably quite wrong.

Have you ever been in a barn before? Have you ever been in one in the middle of the night?  Is the straw clean?  Do the animals smell good?  Is there a fireplace or a furnace or anything to keep the barn warm?  How about a birth? Have you ever witnessed one or been part of one? Are the parents calm or care-free?  And is the baby born peaceful?

When I think about my actual experiences with births and barns they are very different from what I picture the birth of Jesus to be.  If I try to picture what it would have been like to have one of my own children in a barn… uh, yuck, no thanks… that’s probably a better picture of what the birth of Jesus looked like.

Yes, the birth of Jesus was a wonderful thing but not because everything happened in a picture-perfect manner.  It was wonderful and beautiful because of what it meant: unconditional, inescapable love.IMG_1450

The manger scene was designed to show us something very significant.  God — despite the fact He is high above all nations and His glory is above the heavens — came into this world as a small helpless baby and was laid in a filthy dirt manger to show us that He can reach us in our lowest, dirtiest places. (Then Came Jesus, p. 17).

No matter how far we have strayed from God, no matter how deep we are in our sin, that gap is never too big for Jesus to cross.  No rescue mission is too great for our God.  He loves us and He will go to any length to rescue us from ourselves and bring us back into His loving presence.

Lord, again I am awestruck by Your love and the lengths at which You go to display that love.  Thank You for stepping out of heaven and into a messy stable to rescue me.  Thank You for not leaving me in my sin.  Thank You for desiring to bring me into Your loving presence.  In Your name, amen.

Are you reading Then Came Jesus or another advent study?  What is God revealing to you?  Please let me know by leaving a comment.

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