CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 25th December, 2018
Reading Texts: Luke 2:1-20;
(note verses 7,12,16)
This Christmas we shall focus our attention on examining the environment where Jesus was born and where he was laid. What lessons does his birth in a manger convey to us?
Everything that happened in the life of Jesus was in fulfillment of prophecy or for a purpose. Nothing was left to chance by the Almighty God. We cannot imagine that God who created the heavens, the earth and the stars with such precision and “calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, with none missing” would allow His Son to be born and laid in a manger (Isaiah 40:26). It was allowed for a purpose.
What is the significance of Jesus being born and laid in a manger? A manger is a Latin word which means “chew” or “eating”, it was “a feeding trough” or basin. In Luke 2 Verse 12 the angels announced to the Shepherds these words, “And this will be the sign to you. You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” Then, the Shepherds left to checkout the news given to them. They found Jesus laid in a manger as they were told (Verse 16).
As the angels said, the laying of Jesus in a manger was a “sign”. A sign is an indication of something. First, a manger is a dirty place. Imagine Royalty being laid in a filthy, dirty place! What does this signify? Jesus chose to identify himself with the scum of the society, the humble, the insignificant, the poor people of the earth as well as the rich. He condescended to their level in order to lift them up. Psalm 113:4-8 reads, “The LORD is high above all nations, His glory above the heavens. Who is like the LORD our God, Who dwells on high, who humbles himself to behold the things that are in the heavens and in the earth. He raises the poor out of the dust, And lifts the needy out of the ash heap, That He may seat him with princes— With the princes of His people.” (NKJV). See also Psalm 102:19-20. Jesus condescended so as to lift the poor out of degradation
Two, the manger was a humble place, a place of insignificance and condescension. This signifies that Jesus came to teach us that the “way up is down.” He came to teach us that when we humble ourselves we shall be lifted up. He came to teach us the path of humility. No matter where we start in life if we are humble, God is able to lift us up. James 4:10 reads, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (NKJV).
In Matthew 18:1, the disciples of Jesus asked him, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus responded this way, “whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” The heavenly Father used the birth of His Son to teach us a lesson on humility.
Three, the manger also points to the cross of Calvary. Yes, the manger was a place of humility as well as a place of promotion. Paul writes that Jesus humbled himself by going to the cross. The cross was not only a symbol of shame and humility; it was also a place of victory and promotion. Philippians 2:5-9, reads, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,” (NKJV). Only humility could have taken Jesus to the cross. Imagine the King of kings being nailed to the cross.
Four, the manger was a symbol of hope. If Royalty, the King of kings and Lord of Lords, was laid in a manger at birth and from there he rose to conquer the devil and took from him the keys of Hades and Hell, then that should give us hope that we can rise beyond where we are now. We can rise from nothing to something. We can rise from the valley to the Mountain top. We can rise from the ash heap to the pinnacle of life. Like Hannah said, ““The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and brings up. The LORD makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up. He raises the poor from the dust And lifts the beggar from the ash heap, To set them among princes And make them inherit the throne of glory. “For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s, And He has set the world upon them.” (I Samuel 2:6-8 NKJV).
May we at this Christmas be reminded that, Jesus came to lift us up from shame to glory; from sorry to joy; from despair to hope; from poverty to riches in Christ.; from death to life; from darkness to light. May His name be glorified.
Let us use this Christmas to reflect on these lessons about the manger, which Jesus came to teach us.