Maybe I am trying to find reasonableness in an unreasonable world but this just won’t leave me alone. I have been puzzling over the significance of this manger business for quite a while. It just seems so… intentionally specific.
For this post, I decided to look around for some historic notes (research!) that relate to the circumstances around the birth of Jesus, as described in Luke 2. I was surprised at the volume, and disparity, of information. My zeal for historical accuracy melted fairly quickly. Sad, ain’t it? Nevertheless, I have the word of God so I will sally forth.
The point I wanted to get to in this post is this, according to Luke 2:7
“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”
The Savior of the world began His earthly existence in a dirty and crude little space designed for feeding animals. This is what I have been pondering. So much of the Christmas story contains strong symbolism. I have had difficulty grasping the significance of a manger being used for a crib. Why a manger?
Perhaps only God knows all the reasons, however this did occur to me:
The spiritual transaction when one becomes a believer involves the indwelling of the Spirit of God in a person’s heart. No one comes to Jesus with a pure, sinless heart; therefore when God moves in, all hearts are dirty and crude little spaces. Like a manger.
In human perspective, a manger is unfit for human use, and it certainly isn’t an appropriate place for the glory and holiness of God Himself. Then again, neither is a sinner’s heart.
So I ended up here: God entering His creation and laying claim to a dirty manger is symbolic as God entering into and laying claim to our dirty hearts. His entrance to the world brought joy and peace and celebration. The host of heaven praised God. In view of humans. God’s entrance to our hearts also brings joy and peace and celebration.
“Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Luke 15:7 (Jesus speaking)
This season of celebrating the arrival of God into His creation has such deep, wide and high meaning for believers. In the midst of all the events and parties and sermons and gifts and trees associated with the Christmas season is the reminder that God is still here with us, wanting to enter into our dirty, crude little hearts… and make us like Jesus.