Jesus Speaks from the Manger

Bible Book: Luke  2
Subject: Christmas; Jesus, Birth of
Introduction

The day a child is born we all know that he or she can actual say nothing. A baby can cry, gurgle and whine, but a baby cannot speak. We also know that actions speak louder than words. In the case of the birth of Christ, His mere presence in the manger of Bethlehem spoke volumes. His presence in the manger speaks for itself. The songwriter penned the question, "Do you hear what I hear?" We all need to hear the message of the Christ in that manger.

An industrialist in Canada needed to clear many acres of land very quickly in order to put up a factory. He called together some of Canada's best lumberjacks and made them an offer. If they would go up to the rough back country and remove the trees by a scheduled date, he would pay them well, include a bonus for being on time and then would have their wives and children join them at the conclusion of the project for a celebration. The men worked hard and completed the job on time. The employer kept his word and sent for their wives and children. A great party was held with food, a band and great fellowship. In the midst of the festivities a baby started to cry. A lumberjack leaped upon his chair, waved his arms and shouted, "Stop the music, everyone be quiet and let's listen to the baby cry". He had not heard a baby crying for weeks. Our sin-sick world needs to stop and be quiet and hear what that manger of Bethlehem is saying to them. There was a baby in that manger that speaks some important truths! Listen - you can hear what Jesus is saying from the manger.

I. GOD ARRANGES THINGS

From the manger, Jesus is telling us that God arranges things for those who belong to Him. The world may seem to be out of control, but God is still in charge!

If you and I had been in charge of birth of Jesus, we would certainly not have had Him born in a manger. We have placed Him in a royal palace in a capital city. Nothing would have been lacking in regard to the accoutrements surrounding the Son of God. But, the plan of the Father was to have His Son placed in a manger! The place, the time and the manner were all in the divine plan. God was not caught by surprise when Jesus was placed in such a lowly place.

Now there is a great lesson here for us. Mary and Joseph were in the center of God's will, but they were still having a difficult time. There are some who preach and teach that following God's will means you will travel the easy road and every valley will be filled and every mountain will be lowered. Mary and Joseph were in the midst of one of the greatest moments in eternal history, but the way was not easy. James Cleveland used to sing, "Nobody told me that the road would be easy, but I don't feel in no ways tired. I don't believe He brought this far, to leave me!" Amen!

The long trip for Mary was part of the plan of God. It was an arduous trip for a woman ready to give birth. Note this carefully - often God's plan for us takes us through the valleys, over the rough roads and high mountains! But He arranges His plans in a way to bring about ultimate victory! He doesn't lead you down a road to leave you on your own!

I think of the embarrassment that Joseph must have felt having to place his espoused wife in so lowly a place and to have the child he knew to be the Son of God born in a cattle stall. Yet, that was God's plan. Joseph could believe that God was arranging things. The Lord had not brought Joseph that far to leave him!

Yes, often God's plan involves our being humble in a world that prizes wealth, accomplishments and image. Yet God was in this plan all the time, carrying out His will and purpose. The world could not see it or appreciate it at the time. And, thus it is now for you in your life for the Lord. His plan often leads us in the humble places. He did not bring you this far to leave you!

We may not understand all the reasons that Jesus was born in that place, but certainly we know that He was born in lowly circumstances to reveal that He had come to save the least, the last and the lost. He did not come just for the "up and in crowd", He also came for the "down and out crowd."

A little lad was wandering through the streets of London following a bombing raid in WWII. A civil defense worker asked where the boy lived and offered to take him home. The boy told the civil defense man that his mother was dead and his father was dead, and he could not think of any other family member to whom he could go. The civil defense worker said, "But son, you must have someone". The little, sad boy, with tears in his eyes said, "No sir, I got nobody. I guess I'm just nobodies nothing".

Jesus came to say that everybody is somebody's something because God loves you and will save you. Jesus came for one and all!

His birth also teaches us to be faithful in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. Paul knew how to be content in abundance and in want. He knew how to be exalted and abased, and it each case not to lose his sense of trust and faithfulness to the Lord!

God arranged the birth of His Son, and He is working in your life as you trust and follow Him. It doesn't matter how things look to the world, or even how they look to you, keep on following the Redeemer!

II. GOD CHANGES THINGS

Another message of the manger is the way God changes things. Note how he took a lowly cattle stall and turned it into a beautiful image. Most of us have manger scenes in our homes or in our yards during the Christmas season. Isn't that something strange? Just think of it, a cattle stall, once a symbol of the most lowly of earthly places, has become an image of divine life. The presence of Jesus changed it forever! Anything Jesus gets into He changes for the better and for the best, and He changes it forever! That is what happens to a man or woman who lets Him in. He changes you and makes you a child of God.

Shepherds used to be a despised, disdained and scorned. This was so because the Shepherds had to watch their flocks even on the Sabbath and the Pharisees felt they were breaking the Old Testament Law. Also, sheep had a terrible odor and the shepherds often had this same odor on their clothing. They were not the most pleasant people to be around. Yet, angels appeared to them and invited to the manger, the birthplace of our Lord. From that time forward, shepherds would never be viewed the same. Pastors are called Under-Shepherds because we shepherd a flock under Jesus the Great Shepherd. Of course preachers are called things worse than Under-Shepherds.

I heard about a boy once who was sitting in class at school rolling a piece of bologna his mother had sent for his lunch between his hands. The teacher said, "Johnny, what are you doing?"

He answer, "I'm making a teacher."

She was upset and brought the principal to the room. He asked, "Johnny, what are you doing?"

He replied, "I'm making a principal."

The principal was appalled. He went out to call the boy's parents when he spotted the pastor of the local church in the hall. He told him what had happened and asked if he would talk to the boy. The preacher went into the room and said, "Johnny, I know what you are doing. You are making a preacher aren't you?"

Johnny said, "I'd like to make a preacher but I don't have nearly enough bologna for that!"

Whatever people think of preachers, the Bible calls us under-shepherds and Jesus is the Chief Shepherd - the Great Shepherd. The manger reminds us that Jesus changes things!!!

Jesus changed the way we look at calendars. Our calendar is dated from the birth of Christ. But, if a person receives Jesus as Savior and Lord, He changes far more than that!

Everything Jesus touches, He changes! Especially those people and places that open up willingly to HIM!

III. GOD EXCHANGES THINGS

Christmas is a time of exchanging gifts.

The day after Christmas people go back to the store and exchange the gift they received for something they actual want!

A lot of exchanges take place at Christmastime. In a way, that is fitting. Jesus exchanged things when He came!

He exchanged our neglect with His grace and love.

This world had no room for Him, but He had and has room for the world. "He came unto His own and His own received Him not." There was no room at the inn that night, but there was room at the Cross for the innkeeper. No wonder the songwriter penned, "Hallelujah, what a Savior".

The poet has written,

"They laid Him in a manger,

And the angels sang the hymn,

Of rejoicing at His coming,

But there was no room for Him."

"Not much room for baby Jesus,

Not much room today for Him,

Only here and there a manger,

Like to that of Bethlehem."

Most importantly, He came to be born in order to die in our place.

He came to take our sins and give us His righteousness!

He came to take our death and give us His life.

He came to take our guilt and give us His grace.

He came to take our judgment, and thus He died on the cross. In exchange He gives us a place in heaven with Him in eternity.

"There was no room for You,

Sweet Jesus Child, in Bethlehem,

Nor in Galilee,

Nor in Gadarea,

Nor in Jerusalem,

But You still had room for me!

Praise be to you,

Sweet Jesus Child."

An evangelist told of a lady who came to the altar during a crusade. He happened to be the one to speak to her at the front. She said she wanted to be saved. He told her to pray the following prayer, "Oh God, I'm a no good sinner coming to get saved". She did not pray. He looked at her and said, "What is the matter"?

She replied, "I can't pray that prayer, you see I'm a good sinner"

He told her good sinners can't get saved, only no good sinners can get saved. He tried to let go of her hand but she held tight. Finally she started to weep, "Alright," she said, "I'm ready to admit that I am a no good sinner. I want Jesus to save me now".

Someone in this room today needs to come to Christ. He arranged for your salvation long ago. He changes everything where room is allowed for Him. He will exchange your sins with his forgiveness and righteousness. Just admit your need to be saved and accept Him as your Savior. Matthew 1:21 is clear, "You shall call His name Jesus for He shall save His people from their sins.

The little boy was looking in the window at a beautiful red fire truck. He saw the storeowner coming and thought he would chase him away, so the boy turned and ran into the street. A cab hit the lad and threw him to the ground. He was taken to the hospital where it was discovered that his injuries were not as bad as first thought. The next day the owner of the store showed up and gave the boy the red fire truck. The little boy ran his hands over the truck and said over and over, "It's the red fire truck and there is no glass between."

Jesus came down to say, "I am here to love you and to save you and there is nothing between us - except for your sin." Come today and receive Him as your own Savior!