Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Away In A Manger"1 (Lyrics)
Luke 2:7 – And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (NASB)
It was a cold Christmas Eve. I found myself very comfortable within the lobby of my assisted living residence, conversing with staff members who were on duty. In the corner of a small sitting area, a highly customized manger scene had been developed — it was the first year that it had appeared.
During the course of the evening, there was a call from the owners of the facility with the request to "put the Babe in the manger." Discussion ensued as to when to place the Babe in the manger — no one seemed to know. I was asked for my opinion. I was familiar with the tradition of some churches to place the Baby Jesus in the manager at midnight – not beforehand – since Christ had not yet come. But on Christmas Day, the Babe is placed in the manger as part of the celebration of Messiah's coming. So in our facility, we decided to follow that custom.
Reflecting on this tradition, I am reminded that God's Son came to us just at the right time — not a moment too soon or too late, but rather in accordance with His divine plan. Nothing was by accident.
Galatians 4:4 – But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law. (ESV)
Everything happened in fulfillment of Scripture. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a town whose name in Hebrew means "house of bread". But the people of Israel did not understand that He was the Bread of Life. His crib was a manger, a feeding trough, and He was wrapped in strips of cloth, so they did not recognize Him as the new King and God incarnate. He entered this world in an utterly dependent state, demonstrating an act of humility, a trait which characterized His entire earthly life — for example, when He washed the disciples' feet.
How different Christmas can be for us if we take some time to reflect on the Babe in the manger instead of our worldly cares. How has His birth touched our lives? Does God's love — the very reason for Christ's coming into the world — fill us with the real joy of Christmas? Will we have taken time to let God's love fill us with the real joy of Christmas? If so, then we will be able to experience the same transformation that affected the shepherds, the wise men, and all the others who came to the manger.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we humbly adore and thank You for having so humbled Yourself for our salvation as to will to be born in a stable. We thank You for showing us the ways to be humble by Your example while You were here on earth. Help us to approach our daily tasks and service with humility and grace. This we ask in the holy name of Jesus. Amen.