The Sign of the Manger
The Sign of the Manger
We hear a lot of religious words during this time of year, which we don’t think much about. . . . I want us to think about that oft used word, “manger.”
Used three times in Luke 2:7-16:
Luke 2:7 - “And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Luke 2:12 - ““This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.””
Luke 2:16 - So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.”
The Sign of the Manger - What does the manger signal?
1) A Sign of the Servant. This a sign of his humility - a sign of God’s condescension to take on the form of a servant.
The way Jesus should have been born. . . . Jesus should have been born to the most proper couple, beautiful, young and glorious. They would have had a high profile courtship and then a grand and glorious wedding at the most glorious cathedral. The news of the virgin Mary’s progress being with the holy child would have been announced daily. “The virgin Mary has had her 15th week sonogram . . .” Mary and Joseph should have attended weekly sessions of Lamaz class, preparing for a stress free delivery at the Mothers and Babies birth center of Jerusalem. At the birth, the first century paparazi would have been outside waiting to carry the news to the whole world. They would have had no lack of resources with the very best physicians and obstetricians attending. At the birth parades of all the world’s dignitaries would have come to visit the Holy Couple and Child. Not only would the Wise Men from the East have come with their caravan of gifts and Eastern treasures, the Roman Emperor would have come with distinctly Roman Gifts and an arch of Jesus would have been underway. Herod would have immediately crowned the baby Jesus with his crown and title of King of the Jews. Quirinius a lesser dignitary of the region, would have facilitated all the festivities. The chief leaders of Israel in their various parties would have all been present to confer their religious perspective. The Pharisees would have read the Scriptural prophecies at the baby’s coronation. The High Priest, Matthias, son of Theophilos, would have attended to all the proper rites. . . . This is not what happened.
2) A Sign of Sacrifice - There is an association with the manger to feed the lambs, with the very animals themselves. The fact that Shepherds were the first to hear the news is a signal. For they are told about the manger, specifically.
Luke 2:8–9 - “ In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.
These shepherds were attending flocks near the temple in Jerusalem, these were sacrificial flocks. They were preparing victims for the sacrificial trade. The One lying in the manger would be the final and ultimate Victim and Sacrifice.
3) A Sign of Himself as a Sacrament - More surprising - Jesus was laid in a manger because he was food. A manger was, after all, a place in which food was laid.
John 6:35 - “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.”
John 6:33 - ““For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.””
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more