(A stone manger during the time of Jesus – lifted from redeemerofisrael.org)
Around 700 years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah already foretold of his coming. “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Heavy and mighty titles given to the future Messiah. Many expected him to come as such, with the pomp and grandeur befitting the “King of kings and the Lord of lords.” It was not easy for the Hebrews at that time to accept the fact that Christ, the Savior, would come into this world the way he did.
For indeed the Lord Jesus is God and King of all the heavens and the earth. Time will come that everyone will acknowledge this truth, and that as Scripture says, “that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11). But he did not reveal himself to us as a conquering king. Instead, he came in the stillness of the night, while the people of Bethlehem slept, 2,000 years ago, under circumstances that we can only say as lowly and demeaning and devoid of any entitlement.
In my own personal view, nothing could be as lowly as being placed in a manger after birth, same as nothing could be more humiliating than being crucified on the cross. A manger is a feeding trough for animals placed on the lower levels of the houses of Jewish peasants at that time. Usually made of hollowed stone or hardened clay, it is hardly anything as soft as beds should be especially for newborn babies. And it is a receptacle on the floor on one side of the house where animals were kept at night. A feeding trough…that’s where the animals were eating and chewing their food, or drinking water. And on it was the Lord Jesus laid after He was born of Mary, who probably gave birth on the compacted floor.
That is where our Lord and God slept the first night he became Man, as an ordinary baby wrapped in swaddling clothes on a hard and rugged animal feeding trough. He came into the world with utmost humility. Who would imagine a king being born that way? And he did to teach us and show us the way, we who are always engrossed on entitlements, with the “what’s it in for me?” attitude.
In the hurried frenzy bonuses and shopping, exchanging gifts, glittering lights, lechon, hams, Christmas carols which don’t mention Jesus at all, Christmas parties where the name of the person whose birth we are celebrating is seldom mentioned, if at all, let’s pause for a while and think of Jesus, laid on the hard, unforgiving manger. Let’s bow our heads and learn the ultimate humility. And let us worship the Lord.