Learning From the Songs of Christmas
Away in a Manger
Jesus’ birth was not a series of unfortunate events – it was not a LaGrande time, but instead, it was a series of unforeseen events. Jesus came on his own terms, in the right fashion, with a timeless message. The Jewish nation expected the arrival of a Conquering King, but He came as a Suffering Servant. People expected Him to testify of himself, but angels and shepherds testified to Him. Israel expected freedom from Rome, but not forgiveness of sins. They wanted prosperity, and not peace and pardon.
What kind of a Savior was He? What kind of gift did He offer? Who are the beneficiaries?
Jesus is Meek and Lowly
The real story of Christmas is captured in the first two verses of the Christmas hymn “Away in a Manger”:
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.
The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus no crying he makes.
I love thee, Lord Jesus! Look down from the sky,
And stay by my side until morning is nigh.
He was a descendant of King David, but he was born in a stable, and not a palace or a castle. His delivery was not in a hospital, but a barn. The parents needed to do a lot of work before the baby was born. Joseph and Mary had to sweep the floor, wipe the dust and clean the place. They had to do with what they had, including enduring the noise and smell of animals and coping without the benefit of a kitchen or a bathroom. Even our present-day garages are cleaner than the horse stable, pig-sty or chicken coop that was Jesus’ shelter. No disinfectant or deodorant could sanitize or freshen the place enough.
Jesus is Majestic and Lord
Caesar Augustus had ordered a census, sent everyone packing and made life miserable. Rich or poor, strong or weak, men and women had to return to their hometown to register. Included in the throng was Mary, who was with child. However, the birth of Jesus turned the first Christmas from a gloomy Christmas into a glorious one. He had an invited audience at his birthday party, but His audience was not royalty, diplomats or socialites, but angels, shepherds and the heavenly host, and what a breathtaking, spine tingling and eyebrow raising performance it was.
Jesus is Merciful and Love
The Bible says that we were dead in sins (Ephesians 2:1, Ephesians 5, Colossians 2:13), darkened in reason (Ephesians 4:18) and doomed for destruction (I Timothy 6:9), but Jesus came to land a fatal blow to sin. What He had done to sin for our sake in theological terms included forgiving (Matthew 9:2), bearing (John 1:29, Hebrews 9:28), erasing (Acts 3:19), purging (Hebrews 1:3) and canceling (Hebrews 9:26) the sins of men. He died for our sins (I Corinthians 15:3), freed us from sins (Romans 6:22) and remembers them no more (Hebrews 10:17). Three times the Bible says that He is the atoning sacrifice (Hebrews 2:17, I John 2:2, I John 4:10) for our sins.
The birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the two constants after the shopping is done, the sales are counted and the season is over. The greatest gift of all is the gift money cannot buy. It is what the Prince of Peace has given to the world: the forgiveness of sins and salvation of sinners. Our responsibility is to receive the free gift and to tell the lost world of the Saviors’ birth, because one day the tiny babe will return as the conquering King.