The Importance of the Nativity: Six Hidden Lessons in the Improbable Cradle (2023)

I went through 65 seasons of Advent as a believer in Jesus. I nailed my way through half of them. If you count the Christmas sermons, that would be about 150 Advent messages.

I don't remember thinking, "Oh my God, how am I going to say something new this year?" There are some wells that do not dry up. Horizons that expand as you approach. Some stories to comethe backforever,advancein eternityUnderin the depths of mystery andhochto the heights of glory. Advent is one of them. it is inexhaustible.

royalty at a water cooler

Luke is the only Bible writer who uses the wordbaby cribin the New Testament. And what he does with that one word, what God does with that one manger, is enough to make us jump for joy.

"Some stories reach back forever, into eternity, to the depths of mystery and the heights of glory."

baby cribcomes from the Latin word forto chewoEssen. It refers to a trough where horses, donkeys and cattle ate. For example, Luke uses it in Luke 13:15:

The Lord answered him: “Hypocrites! Does not each one untie his ox or his sabbatical donkey on the Sabbathbaby criband take it to water it?

And in the Bible's most famous Christmas passages, Luke calls our attention three times to the manger.

  • “She gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes andput him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7)

  • “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes.lying in a manger.“ (Lucas 2:12)

  • "They ran and found Mary, Joseph and the babylying in a manger.“ (Lucas 2:16)

The Manger's Message

What is Luke's message through the manger?

1. The crib was dirty.

Yes, we can be sure that José and María cleaned it as best they could. No doubt they padded it in some way to make a comfortable bed. But there's no way to romanticize this bed into anything other than a feeder for drooling animals. The first bed of the Son of God was not a true cradle. It was an ordinary corn manger. It is supposed to collect food scraps.

2. The crib was planned.

At first, you might think it was a fluke, an accidental accident. Because Luke says that Mary "laid him in a manger,because there was no room for them at the inn' (Luke 2:7). But the way Luke tells the story isn't going to work.

“The first bed of the Son of God was not a royal cradle. It was a common manger of corn.”

God had centuries to prepare this birth. The prophet Micah lived seven hundred years before the birth of Jesus and prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.

You, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are too small to be among the tribes of Judah, from you will come forth one who will be Lord in Israel, whose origin is ancient, from ancient times. (Micah 5:2)

So God had a good seven centuries (and counting!) to plan the details of the incarnation and get His Son to the right place, at the right time, and in the right way. For example, he could easily have arranged for a faithful virgin and a righteous man of David's prophecy to meet in Bethlehem. But instead he chooses Mary and Joseph, who lived in Nazareth, not Bethlehem. And he plans for Mary to conceive far away from the prophesied city.

To solve this problem, which God himself had created, God could have arranged for Joseph and Mary to be brought to Bethlehem by some personal means, say, a relative in great need, or a dream, or a private legal or business matter. But that's not how he did it.

Instead, God moved Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem through a national census. In other words, God arranged for the most powerful leader in the world to command everyone in the kingdom to go to his hometown to register. You could call this providential overkill. He puts it in a nutshell: "You think you know what I'm doing for the world? You have no idea. I do things exactly the way I like. Including the birth of my son."

In view of this, it becomes ridiculous to think that a God who has a kingdom at his disposal to bring a woman from Nazareth to Bethlehem cannot guarantee that a guest room will be available there. Planning a bed for her son was easier than planning a global census. Jesus lay down exactly where God intended: a manger.

3. The manger was a sign.

The angel of the Lord told the shepherds something almost too good to be true.

A Redeemer is born for you today in the City of David, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11)

To believe and witness this, they would need a sign. The angel gave:

And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lyingbaby crib. (Lucas 2:12)

diapers? All the babies in Bethlehem were in diapers. That's not the sign. The sign is thebaby crib. In fact, it must have sounded so outrageous that the shepherds probably thought they hadn't heard the angel correctly.

“No other king in the whole world was in a depression. Find him and you will find the king of kings.”

Savior. Christ. Sir. The angel said he was born.Plates: Liberator of all our enemies - perhaps more!cristo: the Messiah, the agent in fulfilling all the promises of God.Mr: as in "an angel whoMrappeared to them" and "the glory ofMrshone around him” (Luke 2:9). This Redeemer, Christ and Lord, is inera?

This is the sign. No other king in the entire world was in a depression. Find him and you will find the king of kings. And you will know something. Something very important about his reign.

4. The manger was glorious.

As soon as the words came out of the angel's mouth, "You will find a baby... lying in a manger", heaven erupted in praise:

Suddenly a multitude of the heavenly host appeared with the angel praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest (Luke 2:13,14)

Glory to God! ThePlateslies in a gutter! Glory to God! Themessiahlies in a gutter! Glory to God! TheMrlies in a gutter! "Glory to Godno mole!” From the oldest to the youngest! What God! What a savior!

5. The manger is the path of discipleship.

The angel of the Lord came to the shepherds, not the Pharisees.

Glory to God in the highest and on earthPeace among those you are happy with! (Lucas 2:14)

With whom is the Lord pleased? This word "pleased" (GreekEudocia) appears elsewhere in Luke:

Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said: “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them to babes; yes dad because that was yourshave fun(Eudocia).” (Lucas 10:21)

Not the sage. Not understanding. But the children. Those who wouldn't harm a baby in the feeder. Those who did not expect a better bed than their Redeemer:

As they were walking along the road, someone said to Jesus, "I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." (Luke 9:57-58)

Except for a crib.follow me.

6. The manger was the first step of Calvary.

Calvary leads down. Not because it's getting easier, but because it's getting deeper. The Savior's life begins and ends badly. This is the point in Philippians 2:6-8:

Although in the form of God, he did not consider equality with God something to be attached to, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant [who began life below servants - in a manger]... be obedient to deathdeath on the cross.

Thus saves the Saviour. In this way, the Messiah fulfills all the promises. This is how the Lord reigns: from infinite divinity to the gutter and final torment on the cross.

"Thus reigns the Lord: from infinite divinity to the trough to final torment on the cross."

For those with eyes to see, the angels' message makes sense. Yes, we must follow him! “Any one of you who does not renounce everything he has cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:33). It's a low path. A hard way. But there is no greater joy than being on this path with this Savior.

“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you great joy” (Luke 2:10). that is notmoderateHappiness. To meanbig joy. "Glory to God in the highest" (Lk 2:10-14). Great joy for us. Great glory be given to God.

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