[Thanks be to God for His incredible gift!]
It was God’s plan from the beginning to send His Son into the world (1 Peter 1:20-21) so an angel named Gabriel was sent to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to speak to a young lady named Mary. She was engaged to be married to Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”(Luke 1:28) Mary was deeply troubled by this, and was trying to understand what the angel meant. The angel then told her not to be afraid and reassured her that she had found favor with God. Gabriel also informed Mary that she would conceive and give birth to a son who she would name Jesus.(Luke 1:26-30)
“He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His ancestor David. And He will reign over Israel forever; His Kingdom will never end! Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and He will be called the Son of God.” –Luke 1:32-35
Mary’s fiance Joseph was also visited by an angel. When Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant, being that he was a good man, he didn’t want to disgrace Mary in public so he planned to divorce her secretly. While he thought about these things, an angel of the Lord came to him in a dream. The angel told Joseph not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife because the baby in her was from the Holy Spirit. Joseph was also informed that Mary would give birth to a son and that He would be called Jesus because He would save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:18-20)
“All this happened to bring about what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be pregnant. She will have a son, and they will name Him Immanuel,” which means “God is with us.” When Joseph woke up, he did what the Lord’s angel had told him to do. Joseph took Mary as his wife, but he did not have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to the son. And Joseph named Him Jesus.” –Matthew 1:22-25
While Mary was expecting, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. At this time, everyone had to go to their own town to register so Joseph also went to register. Both he and Mary made the trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the town of David because Joseph belonged to the house and line of David. While they were in Bethlehem Mary gave birth to her firstborn son. Because there was no room at the inn her baby was born in a stable. Mary wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and placed Him in a food trough.
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.” –Luke 2:8-14
So when the angels had left and went into heaven the Shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has told us about.” So the Shepherd’s quickly went off and found Mary and Joseph in the stable. When they had seen the baby, they spread the news about what they’d been told about this child, and all who heard the story were amazed. (Luke 2:15-18)
Wise Men from the East followed Bethlehem’s star to Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the baby Who was born to be the King of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2:1-2) King Herod held a secret meeting with the Wise men. He wanted to find out where Jesus was born. He claimed that He wanted to go worship the child so He told the Wise Men to come tell him where they had found the child. After their meeting with the king they followed the star that would go before them until it stopped where the baby Jesus was. They bowed down before Him and worshipped Him, then they opened the gifts that they’d brought for the newborn Messiah, giving Him gold, frankincense and myrrh. God had warned the Wise Men in a dream not to go back to King Herod so they returned to their own country via a different route. (Matthew 2:7-12)
How can it be, that God’s own Son, sent to save the world, would be forced to arrive in a filthy stable, and then placed in a feeding trough? These images speak volumes to me of my Savior’s love. Symbolically, it makes sense that He’d be placed in a feeding trough, after all, He was presented to the world as the bread of life. (John 6:35) He also fed the hungry and encouraged those who were thirsty to come to Him and never be thirsty again. That water is the gift of the Holy Spirit who is our living water. (By the way, a trough can hold both food or water.) In God, through Jesus Christ, He is both our bread and water.
“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty.” –John 6:35
Not only was Jesus born in a filthy stable, but He was also born into a filthy bloodthirsty world. King Herod wanted this King of the Jews dead. (He wouldn’t be the only one who’d want Jesus dead, and even today there are those who want Christ’s followers dead.) When Herod learned that the Wise Men had tricked him he ordered all the baby boys in Bethlehem and the surrounding area who were two years old or younger to be killed. However, Joseph was well aware of this as an Angel had warned Him to take Mary and the baby Jesus to Egypt and stay there until King Herod was dead. (Matthew 2:16)
If Bethlehem had understood who Jesus truly was, would things have been any different? If they had known that this holy child, God in the flesh, would die so that we may live, would anyone have surrendered their room for this rightly King? His welcome wasn’t very warm. There was no room for Him. However, knowing full well that He had come to die, Jesus loved the wretched, even while He was being crucified. (Luke 23:34, Romans 5:8)
Mary wasn’t the only one who was highly favored by God. God looks at all of His children with this same love and adoration. To know Jesus is to love Him, and to love Him is to do as He asks, loving others as He has loved us. (John 14:15; 1 John 5:3; Luke 10:25-28)
“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” –2 Corinthians 9:15
Lord Jesus, thank you, for coming into our world to heal our sorrows. Please help us to help those who haven’t made room in there hearts so that they may recieve You as the King of their hearts.