"...and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room in the inn” (Luke 2:7)
CONTEXT: Luke 2:1-7
When Mary gave birth to Jesus, she performs two postnatal actions:
1. “She wrapped him in cloths”
2. She “placed him in a manger”
Now “action 1” was a pretty normal thing to do; in fact, there seems to be a return to that in our modern day with midwives recommending babies be swaddled in order for them to feel comfortable and safe.
So far, nothing too far out of the ordinary. A pregnant lady gives birth – wrapping her baby in swaddling cloths. It may not have been of the best of quality, but it was what was done.
However, what happens next, is something unheard of: Mary “placed him in a manger”.
There’s no crib, no bed – the new mother places her new-born infant in a box designed to feed animals.
I read this and think: “Surely this is a mistake!” This was no ordinary baby! This was the Saviour of the world! Surely the son of God; God himself deserved better! Perhaps we’ve misread this. But no – its nothing more, it’s nothing less than an unhygienic, crudely made box used to feed livestock.
There in a stable, on a dark crisp night, we see the Creator and Sustainer of all things, almighty God in a manger – God in a box!
Right there and then, we are confronted with the Christmas mystery. The mystery of the incarnation. God allowing himself not only to be boxed in a manger, but to be boxed or limited in human flesh. Stepping out of eternity to be boxed by time.
This manger, this box would be the distinguishing sign for the shepherds as they sought Jesus (see Luke 2:12). You see, nowhere else in Bethlehem that night would there be a new-born baby – any baby for that matter – lying in a feed box, amid the lowing of cattle and the bleating of sheep!
Once again this year, this box is presented for mankind’s consideration. Again we are called to stop, look and listen to what that manger and the Christmas babe therein says to us.
What does that box represent? What is it that we are once again reminded of?
Pause and reflect:
· Think about what the “message” from that manger is – what it meant then and what it means today. We’ll touch on this in tomorrow’s devotion.
Jesus, a manger, a feed box, your crib
Straw, your pillow to place your head;
Take my life, my being, my all,
Reside in my heart instead.