God in a Manger

I recently read an author talk about this story:

Soren Kierkegaard, the great Danish theologian of another century, tells a story of a prince who wanted to find a maiden suitable to be his queen. One day while running an errand in the local village for his father, he passed through a poor section. As he glanced out the windows of the carriage his eyes fell upon a beautiful peasant maiden. During the ensuing days he often passed by the young lady and soon fell in love. But he had a problem. How would he seek her hand?

He could order her to marry him. But even a prince wants his bride to marry him freely and voluntarily and not through coercion. He could put on his most splendid uniform and drive up to her front door in a carriage drawn by six horses. But if he did this he would never be certain that the maiden loved him or was simply overwhelmed with all of the splendor. As you might have guessed, the prince came up with another solution. He would give up his kingly robe. He moved, into the village, entering not with a crown but in the garb of a peasant. He lived among the people, shared their interests and concerns, and talked their language. In time the maiden grew to love him for who he was and because he had first loved her.

The author concludes: This very simple, almost child like story, written by one of the most brilliant minds of our time explains what we Christians mean by the incarnation. God came and lived among us. I am glad that this happened for two reasons. One, it shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is with us, that He is on our side, and that He loves us. Secondly, it gives us a first hand view of what the mind of God is really all about. When people ask what God is like, we, as Christians, point to the person of Jesus Christ.[1] 

Let’s read Luke 2:1-7:

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 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.

  1. Jesus, our hope is born.
    • “Mommy, Daddy, tell me a story.” Have you heard that recently? What about, “Grandma, grandpa, tell me a story,” have you heard that recently?
    • I love stories. I am drawn to stories. My children love stories. I have some of their books up here. I remember when my children were younger and could barely talk, they would just come and hand me a book. Mercedes would come to me and say, “Can you read Little House on the Prairie to me?” Abigail would come to me and hand me a book and ask me to read it. They love stories too.
    • Still most every night I read to them before bed.
    • It is true that kids grow up quick. I remember when Mercedes was in preschool and she was learning all about books. She liked to play teacher. I heard her at home telling Abigail all about books, “This is the cover and this is the back. This is the spine; the spine holds the book together. Who draws the pictures? The illustrator.” Later, we heard Abigail say the same things. It was great. Of course, now she is in third grade, so she still plays teacher, but she is trying to teach more advanced things.
    • The Bible is full of stories and we can read that Jesus told many stories. In fact, the Bible is mostly stories. The Bible is many short stories with one grand story. We have the grand story of God’s love for us and His plan to save us from our sins. That is the grand story. There are short stories. The short stories tell:
      • How God created us good;
      • How humans sinned against God;
      • How God sent Jesus to be born of a virgin and die on the cross for our sins;
      • How some day God will make all things right.
  2. How is Jesus our hope?
    • This is a true story; unlike the fantasies we like to read (and I love fantasy stories).
    • This is the story of the birth of the Anointed One, that is what Messiah means, Anointed One.
    • Jesus, born of the virgin Mary will save us from our sins, the wrong things we do.
    • Jesus is our hope in that He will save us.
    • Jesus is our hope in that He will eventually bring peace.
    • Jesus is our hope in that He will restore all creation and He will be the perfect King.
    • Jesus is our hope in that He is called Immanuel and that means God with us.
    • Jesus is our forever hope.

I hope with Christmas we take comfort and great joy in celebrating Jesus, our Lord’s birth. The Hope of the world was born. All through the Old Testament the Bible is filled with stories and all these stories are about people looking for the Messiah and now He has been born. Jesus born in a stable which, was a barn, and laid in a manger, which was a feeding trough, this is the story of how the Hope of the world entered the world. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. This is the story of how shepherds came to worship Him and the angels worshipped Him too. This is God becoming a man.The Hope of the world was born in Bethlehem and we celebrate that at Christmas time.

The Hope of the world was born in Bethlehem and we celebrate that at Christmas time.

Our hope has come and He is Jesus.

I don’t know about you but many times I can focus my hope on things, but Jesus is my forever hope. I just need to keep telling myself that.

I don’t know about you, but I can easily focus my hope on politicians, but Jesus is our forever hope, again, I need to remind myself of this.

I don’t know about you, but I can put my hope in money. This is only temporary hope and Jesus takes care of my eternal, my forever, needs. He is my forever hope.

I don’t know about you, but I can put my hope in people, but there is only One person, Jesus, who will never let me down. Jesus is our forever hope.

These are all good things and there is nothing wrong with money, things, politics, people, but they do not take care of our forever.

Placing our hope in things can overwhelm us.

A few years ago, I was talking with a Christian athlete who was always trying to please the coach. It helped her when she realized that she only needs to please God. It helped her when she realized she plays for an audience of One.

Jesus is our Lord, not money, things, people, or even our boss. Jesus is our forever hope.

Jesus became a human being. In Philp Yancey’s book, The Jesus I Never Knew he shares this:

In London, looking toward the auditorium’s royal box where the queen and her family sat, I caught glimpses of the more typical way rulers stride through the world: with bodyguards, and a trumpet fanfare, and a flourish of bright clothes and flashing jewelry. Queen Elizabeth II had recently visited the United States, and reporters delighted in spelling out the logistics involved: her four thousand pounds of luggage included two outfits for every occasion, a mourning outfit in case someone died, forty pints of plasma, and white kid leather toilet seat covers. She brought along her own hairdresser, two valets, and a host of other attendants. A brief visit of royalty to a foreign country can easily cost twenty million dollars.

In meek contrast, God’s visit to earth took place in an animal shelter with no attendants present and nowhere to lay the newborn king but a feed trough. Indeed, the event that divided history, and even our calendars, into two parts may have had more animal than human witnesses. A mule could have stepped on him. “How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given.”

For just an instant the sky grew luminous with angels, yet who saw that spectacle? Illiterate hirelings who watched the flocks of others, “nobodies” who failed to leave their names. Shepherds had such a randy reputation that proper Jews lumped them together with the “godless,” restricting them to the outer courtyards of the temple. Fittingly, it was they whom God selected to help celebrate the birth of one who would be known as the friend of sinners.[1]

He came to save us. He came to live with us. He came to set us free. He will come again and bring peace and make things right. He is the Savior. This is the story of His birth.

Christmas is all about Jesus’ birth. God became a human being so that He could die for our salvation.

This is good news. I notice recently that all of the news headlines are negative. They are all bad news. Recently, I read about a book titled: “Stop Reading the News” by Rolf Dobelli. He shares the following:

Bad news is perceived as more relevant than good news. Negative information has twice the impact that positive information does. In psychology, this is called negativity bias, and it can be observed in even one-year-old infants. They respond more sensitively to negative stimuli than to positive ones. Adults are no different. A stock falling by ten per cent makes us twice as unhappy as a stock climbing by ten per cent makes us happy. Negativity bias is innate. The news media hasn’t inculcated into us our weakness for negative information; it simply exploits this weakness in expert fashion, delivering a stream of shocking stories that are tailor-made for our anxious brains.

Then he digs deeper:

The news continually stimulates our sympathetic nervous system, a part of our autonomic nervous system. Psychological stressors lead to the release of adrenaline by the hypothalamus. Adrenaline then leads to a rise in cortisol. So, every garish story can lead to the production of this stress hormone. Cortisol floods our bloodstream, weakening the immune system and inhibiting the production of growth hormones. By consuming the news, you’re putting your body under stress. Chronic stress leads to anxiety and digestive and growth problems and leaves us to infection. Other potential side effects of news consumption include panic attacks, aggression, tunnel vision and emotional desensitization. In short, consuming the news puts your psychological and physical health at risk

According to a study by the American Psychological Association, half of all adults suffer from the symptoms of stress caused by news consumption.[1]

So, that is the negative news. But Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem is good news. This is good news to believe and to share. Focus on the good news these next few days. Focus on the good news this next year.

One of the most exciting things that you can do while celebrating Jesus’ birthday is to make it your spiritual birthday as well. You can accept Jesus’ free gift of salvation right now.

God’s presence is the gift here, and you just have to unwrap the gift. 

The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The Bible says that the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). The Bible says that Jesus is the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except by Him. (John 14:6). The Bible teaches that sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). The Bible says that God will not let the guilty go unpunished (2 Thess 1:8-9). Yet, the Bible teaches that God loves the people of the world (John 3:16). That is a dilemma. God can’t tell a lie, or He wouldn’t be God (Numbers 23:19). God doesn’t change His mind (1Sam 15:29). That is why God sent Jesus. The guilty must go punished. Jesus took our punishment on the cross. The penalty of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life.


[1] https://www.sermonsearch.com/sermon-outlines/23567/god-in-a-manger/

[1] Yancey, Philip. The Jesus I Never Knew (pp. 36-37). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

[1] Read this on Dr Scot McKnight’s Blog through Christianity Today. December 10, 2020: https://www.christianitytoday.com/scot-mcknight/2020/december/news-consumption-and-your-health.html

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