Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Child In The Manger"1 (Lyrics)
Psalm 119:105 – Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (NKJV)
As I was looking through some of the Christmas carols in the hymn books that we have, I noticed that a fair number of them refer to either the stable or the manger: "Once in royal David's city stood a lowly cattle shed" or "Child in the manger, infant of Mary", "Away in a manger", or one of my favourite Dutch carols, "In Bethlehem's stable lies Jesus the Lord."
Some shepherds in the fields near Bethlehem heard from the angels that the Saviour was born there and could be found in a manger:
Luke 2:11-12 – For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger. (NKJV)
I would like to accompany them and see how this lamp, the Word of God, will illuminate that place. At the time of Jesus' birth, the stable in Bethlehem was a desperate place, I'm sure. As we enter, we see a very sad scene indeed: a poor, tired-looking couple and a newborn child in a manger. Is that why we came to Bethlehem, to see a poor couple and a child in a dirty stable in the middle of the night?
In the first light of this lamp of Scripture, we see the genealogy of Joseph and Mary as it is written in the first chapter of Matthew and the third chapter of Luke. Much to our surprise, we discover that they were descendants of David, that great King of Israel. This little child in the manger is therefore the real claimant to the throne of Israel. This is not an ordinary child; this is a Prince.
The lamp of the Word is still shining, and we see that Micah prophesied that the ruler of Israel would be born in Bethlehem:
Micah 5:2 – But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. (NIV)
The light of the lamp now falls again on our friends the shepherds. They have brought us here, and they tell us, and Joseph and Mary, what has happened during the night, the things that they have heard and seen. They heard songs of praise from the heavenly host, and they were told that today was born the Saviour who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David, right here in Bethlehem.
Although they all went back to their homes and their flocks and their work, I would suggest that things were never the same for them again. The lamp of Scripture shows them talking to every person they saw, telling them about the birth of Jesus and the things that they experienced that night. May we do the same!
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we thank You for the lamp of Your Word. We pray that it will illumine the path to the Saviour for many people as we again remember and celebrate the birth of Christ. We offer this prayer in His name. Amen.