Devotional

“And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.” – Luke 2:6-7.

Children today are born in pristine operating rooms. Once they arrive, they are wrapped in a soft, warm blanket and placed in a spotless crib in the pristine nursery. And once the stay at the hospital is over the baby is brought home to a pristine home nursery months in the making. Such a marked difference from the story we see unfold in scripture of another baby’s birth.

Mary and Joseph were traveling to Bethlehem because of a census decreed by Caesar Augustus. A very pregnant Mary traveled with Joseph to the town of his family to be counted. When they arrived, they discovered there was no room at the inn. Luke 2:7 says: “She (Mary) wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger because there was no lodging available for them.” At first, you might think that where Jesus was born was a fluke of fate — a random misfortune. But the Bible suggests otherwise. The prophet Micah lived seven hundred years before the birth of Jesus and prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem:“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf.” (Micah 5:2 )So God had planned the arrival of His Son in the right place, at the right time, and in the right way. He chooses Mary and Joseph, who lived in Nazareth, not Bethlehem. And He plans for Mary to get pregnant far from the prophesied town and He arranges to move Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem by means of an empire-wide census. He could have arranged for an available room but didn’t because Jesus was lying in exactly the place God planned: a manger.

The manger was a sign to the shepherds.”And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Every baby in Bethlehem was wearing swaddling cloths so that didn’t narrow the field at all. No the manger was the sign and a glorious sign it was. No sooner were the words out of the angel’s mouth — “you will find a baby . . . lying in a manger” — than “Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” (Luke 2:13–14)

The manger was step one on the road to Calvary. The Savior’s life starts low and ends lower. This is the point of Philippians 2:6–8: “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”

This is how the Savior saves. This is how the Messiah fulfills all the promises.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Jesus went from a throne in heaven to a manger in a stable. How does this single act demonstrate how much God loves each and every one of us?
  2. How do we keep the manger in our minds on a daily basis?