2 Corinthians 8:9 – For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich. (RSV)
Everything God does on earth has a purpose for humanity, so I have been intrigued by His purpose behind the manger scene and the obvious poverty of the animal stalls and the manger bed. We are so used to the nativity scene with the manger that we rarely think about it now. We take the manger for granted and think that it is really cute. But why did God allow the birth of the baby Jesus in an animal's feed trough? With God as His father, a very rich scene was possible, like a large, well-equipped house or even a palace. Undoubtedly, God come to earth like this so that "all poor men and humble" would be able to identify with Him, as Katharine Emily Roberts wrote in her hymn:
- All poor men and humble,
All lame men who stumble,
Come haste ye nor feel ye afraid;
For Jesus, our treasure,
With love past all measure,
In lowly poor manger was laid.
What a beginning! What was God's purpose in sending His Son in the form of a human baby? There is something special about being in need of the help of another caring person in a difficult situation. Perhaps, this is what the Lord intends us to learn through that humble birth. He certainly wants us to be mindful of each other's needs.
Surely, when God gave His Son this kind of beginning, it was descriptive of what He would like to see in all of us: a humble beginning where love for one another is most prevalent. The most promising truth taught by Scripture about God is His love for us. He sent His Son as a baby in a lowly animal shelter to depict our need for love, especially His love, as we reach out and care for one another in difficult situations. Jesus told us, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." (Luke 10:27 RSV)
When the love of God controls our thoughts and actions, we grow in His grace. Yes, from a humble start, through loving God and one another, we grow into eternity. On the road ahead in life, we share the love and protection of God as we travel through the years "with love past all measure."
Prayer: Lord, enable us to love You faithfully and to follow You continuously, as we grow from a birth that speaks of a humble beginning to a life that speaks of Your glory. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.