WHEN LIFE WAS BORN
Christmas at revive
A New song, a classic beginning, The Message In The Manger, beautiful children praising His birth, and dueling guitars...what a GREAT service!
the message in the manger
“This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12).
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11 KJV). We forget how utterly unprepared the shepherds were to hear those words—and how awesome they must have sounded. A Savior has been born! The Messiah has come! The Lord from heaven is here! And in Bethlehem, no less!
But where in Bethlehem? How will they find the baby? That’s where verse 12 comes in. When the angel speaks of “the sign” (the Greek contains the definite article), he uses a word that generally refers to a supernatural sign from God that no one could miss. Like the parting of the Red Sea or walking on water or (in the ultimate sense) rising from the dead. Those events are “signs” that the God of the universe has intervened in human history.
And that’s why verse 12 has always sounded a bit strange to my ears. “This will be the sign.” And I expect the next sentence to read, “The moon will turn to blood and the stars will spell out his name.” Or something like that. But it’s not like that. The “sign” from God is this: You will find a baby wrapped in “swaddling clothes” (the King James terminology) and lying in a manger.
Luke 2:12 is telling us that the particular circumstances of Jesus’ birth are important. They are part of the message from God. After all, Jesus could have been born in any circumstances God chose. What is the message of the manger? What is God saying to us? What do we learn about the way God works? About who Jesus is?
I. His Humanity—"You will find a baby”
“A baby.” That’s all the Greek says. The word means “an infant” or a “newborn child.” It is a totally ordinary word used to describe the birth of a child. This tells us that Christ came into the world just as we all do.
II. His Helplessness—"Wrapped in cloths”
What do we learn from the binding of baby Jesus? It reminds us of another time, years later, when he would stand before the Jewish authorities, bound and guarded as if he were a common criminal. When falsely accused, he made no reply. He came not for the faith of a few but to be the Savior of all. He was bound that we might be set free.
III. His Humility—"Lying in a manger”
One problem we have with the story is that the word “manger” doesn’t easily communicate a clear image to us. Many of us get our concept of a “manger” from watching the yearly Christmas pageant at church. But the word itself means something like a stable or perhaps a feeding-trough. In the first century, stables were often nothing more than a circle of stones around a hollowed-out cave in the side of a hill.
Is there a hint here of his upcoming death? I believe there is.
That night if you had walked by, nothing would have seemed supernatural. Mangers were not the beautiful, clean places we see in our Christmas pageants. They are lonely, dirty, smelly places made for animals. If you are looking for Jesus, don’t start in the nursery. Go outside to the barn and find the oldest part where the boards need repair and the ground is covered with dirt and the air smells of manure. When you hear the baby’s cry, you’ll know you’ve found the Lord. He’s not in the nursery with the rest of the children; he’s out in the barn with the animals.
The scene at Bethlehem is one of utter simplicity: a mother, a father, and a baby. Thus was “the Word made flesh” to dwell among us. What God does is both simple and clear. And the message to us is also simple and clear. Those who come in simple faith to the Lord Jesus Christ find great peace. We need once again to preach the plain man’s gospel, free of speculation and centered on Christ.
Spurgeon then urged his hearers to come in faith to the Babe of Bethlehem who would one day die for the sins of the world. Little children should come for he was once a little child himself. Young women should come for Mary was a young woman who was God’s instrument for bringing Christ into the world. Young men should come for Joseph was a young man who had great faith in God. Old women should come for Anna was an old woman who looked for the coming of the Lord. Old men should come for aged Simeon waited for the consolation of Israel. The working men and women should come to Christ because the shepherds represent all those who work with their hands for a living—and they too came to Bethlehem. Finally, the highly-educated of the world should come for the Wise Men came bearing gifts. They too bowed and worshiped the King.
This is Spurgeon’s closing appeal: “For my own part, the Incarnate God is all my hope and trust. I come back to preach, by God’s help, the gospel, the simple gospel of the Son of God. Jesus, Master, I take Thee to be mine forever! May all in this house be led to do the same, and may they all be thine, great Son of God, in the day of thine appearing, for thy love’s sake. Amen.”
The only time in Charlie Brown history when Linus dropped his blanket, was when he recited the Christmas Story from Luke 2 and said, "Fear Not!" The blanket fell to the ground, and he continued with only the security of the Lord guiding His path.