Luke 2:7 – And [Mary] gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (NIV)
In Nigeria, Africa, the Mbe Bible-translating team was into Luke chapter 2, verse 7. They did not even pause at their Mbe word used for manger. They had always used the word okpang orally and in their partial translations.
But now, the inter-language translation consultant asked, "What does an okpang look like?" On a whiteboard, an Mbe man sketched a picture of a cradle hung by ropes so that a newborn baby could be laid in it and swung. "We have used the word okpang for years," he said, and all of the team agreed that they wanted no other word.
But the consultant patiently reminded them that God expects people to find words to match the original language's meaning. "The original word here means an animal-feeding trough," he explained. "What do you use for your animals to eat from?"
"We use an old basket, an edzabre."
"Try that word," he suggested.
Much discussion followed. The Mbe people were moved to consider the extents of Jesus' humility. Born of a humble maiden, He was laid in an animals' feeding trough. He went on to wash His disciples' feet and to die on a cross. They questioned, "If Jesus can so humble Himself, what about us?" The Mbe people chose the word edzabre.
James wrote, "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up" (James 4:10 NIV).
Paul wrote, "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — of whom I am the worst" (1 Timothy 1:15 NIV).
Prayer: Thank You, Jesus, that You came in humility, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God. Please grant us understanding and humility in our relationships so that multitudes will choose Your way and humbly believe and be saved. Amen.
Permission has been granted by Wycliffe Bible Translators Inc. USA, for the use of information from the article “Inspired by God” by John Watters, published in “When God's Word Speaks” ©2016.
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