Away in a manger no crib for a bed… the only resting place for this baby boy is a manager, a feeding trough for livestock. He is born to humble parents in humble surroundings. The Angels proclaim the birth of this precious baby:
“And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:9-11 NASB)
Why did the Redeemer of Israel (and the world) come as a helpless baby dependent on others for His sustenance? Did He not create all things? We are so dependent on Him for life; He now needs caring for. How could the King of Glory leave heaven to join humanity? How can a baby bring good news and joy?
I have heard many arguments at Christmas time about the baby Jesus and that He is no longer a baby and is a man, insulted that we would recognize a child. However, is that not what Jesus did — welcome the little children to Himself to bless them? He compared the kingdom of heaven to a child and that grown-ups need to embrace their zest for life and return to child-like faith. Peter refers to Jesus as the Holy Child while preaching the Gospel, long after Jesus had grown to be a man, died and was resurrected (cf. Acts 4:27).
In Acts 4: 27 it is interesting to note that the King James Version translates that verse as the Holy Child Jesus, while most other versions translate it servant. How powerful that the child is a servant — the servant Jesus Christ, the one that came not be served, but to serve. The wondrous, glorious night that Jesus was born in the shepherd town of Bethlehem, Israel was in great agony over their captivity. The yoke of the Roman oppression drained them of all hope—driven to despair. The cry that rose to heaven to the Father was for deliverance. Yet God saw fit to send a child to free them from captivity.
A child is usually unaware of the troubles and cares that adults carry, especially at Christmas. Children dream and believe for things that most grown-ups have long forgotten. Christmas is a magical season for children; how they wish and dream — and when we witness them running to the Christmas tree with overflowing joy, we feel that magic, too. The hustle and bustle, the running and worrying all come to a brief stand still. We can take a deep breath and experience the joy and magic they feel. Who else can usher us into the magic of Christmas but a child?
God sent a child to help us dream again; to nudge us back to the faith we had as a child. That God can do anything and give us anything — if we only ask. That baby, sleeping in a manager, interrupted the agony and despair that night ~ though only the shepherds and a few livestock were fortunate enough to witness the event. We can fall to our knees and worship at the door of that manager, at the sight of the Holy Child ~ offering our gold, frankincense and myrrh of thanksgiving to the Lord for sending a servant baby, straight from heaven, to reconcile the world and to break the grip of death. The King of Glory ~ a precious baby ~ how all creation should bow to the Holy Child Jesus!