The Empty Manger

The day arrived, the time was right and a place was found for the birth of the Son of God. The very first place Jesus laid His head was in a manger. The voice of an angel called the lowly shepherds to come and see for themselves the long awaited Messiah.

Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And you will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger’” (Luke 2:10-12).

This was wonderful news and so good, that they couldn’t keep it to themselves. They were eyewitnesses of a prophetic event foretold by the prophets for thousands of years. They just had to tell everyone about this good news revealed to them from heaven, concerning the birth of the Messiah.

Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marvelled at those things which were told them by the shepherds” (Luke 2:17-18).

Also, many others who were in Bethlehem and heard the news desired to see this New Born King. Joyously, they found their way to Mary and Joseph and came upon the Lord Jesus in His manger. However, some time later, another sign appeared in the sky, visible to all, but only understood by the Magi of the East.

The Magi were the watchers of the sky. They recognized this star and understood it to be the sign of the “King of the Jews.” This king, Jesus the Christ, was very important to them. So important, that when they saw this star, they immediately embarked on a pilgrimage to the place where it lead them. The only reason for this trip was to acknowledge Him as the King of the Jews, worship Him and lay their precious gifts at His feet.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him’” (Matt. 2:1-3).

Now keep in mind, by the time the Magi appeared in the land of Palestine the census had long been completed and this was sometime after Jesus was born. Mary and Joseph were now at their home, in their house. Upon arriving in the area of Jerusalem the Magi inquired about Jesus Christ’s birth. But Herod, the current ruling king, inquired of the wise men about the time of the star’s appearance and sent them to Bethlehem (Matt. 2:7-8). However, after speaking with Herod, they did not listen to him; instead they continued to follow the star until it stopped over the place were Jesus was staying.

When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, [not the manger] they saw the young Child with Mary His mother and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense and myrrh” (Matt. 2:9-11, emphasis added).

Their lengthy journey was over. They had found the King of the Jews at His home with His mother! They found Jesus by following His star, the heavenly sign. But, did you ever wonder what if they had listened to Herod instead?

What if they had listened to the people who remembered the extraordinary birth of a child born in a temporary shelter in Bethlehem? What if they had, instead, gone to the manger where He had lain in swaddling clothes? What would they have seen? Sorrowfully, they would have found an empty manager and no New Born King of the Jews. What a sad and dismal disappointment that would have been!

At this time of the year, many well meaning and good hearted, so called, professing Christian people prepare to celebrate the birth of this King of Kings, the Saviour of mankind, Jesus the Christ. But sadly, and unfortunately, the “traditional Christian” notion you are given, is that Jesus is still in the manger, when in fact, He is not.

Though the mortal and incarnate birth of Jesus Christ is important and crucial to God’s plan for humankind’s redemption, ironically there is no biblical injunction to celebrate and/or observe the day of His human birth. As a matter of fact, contrary to this understanding, we are instructed to remember His death instead (1 Cor. 11:23-26).

It is troubling to think how so many well intentioned people are led to believe by the holiday imagery portrayed, that figuratively, Christ is still a child needing the nurturing of His human parents, when in fact, as humans we need His nurturing.

Undeniably, I’m sure it was quite a shock in the life of Mary, (His human mother) when realizing that Jesus at the young age of 12 years old was discovered teaching at the Temple with the religious leaders of His day, when His parents had every right and indication to believe that He still needed them! Remember His words,

‘Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?’ But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them” (Luke 2:49-50).

What a stark surprise this must have been. Undoubtedly though, we are told they did not understand. Assuredly, it must have been astonishing and amazing to see Him there when they expected him to be with the family, in the caravan going home.

Allegorically, this is quite characteristic of what Christmas is like. We are led to believe by the pomp and celebration of the “traditional” Christmas Holidays, that “Christ is in Christmas” and that “He is the reason for the season,” when He’s not even anywhere close to condoning this observance; and furthermore, never was in it in the first place.

So often, many today look for Jesus Christ in all the wrong places. They claim to be followers of His way, but don’t do the things He asks (Luke 13:22-28). Sadly, many today insist on having Jesus Christ on their terms, never realizing that the “traditions of men” (i.e. Christmas) make the laws of God of no effect (Matt. 15:7-9).

We need to understand that God expects us to conform to Him. Jesus Christ is the pattern we should follow. If we are going to please God, then we need to understand that Jesus Christ has been born, (but rather this time born from above) not in a manger, but from the grave. He was born as an immortal spirit and functions as a High priest at the right hand of the Father, alive, interceding for you and me. The sooner we realize this, the sooner we will recognize where He really is and what He really expects from us.

Don’t be like the many who just follow the “Herod’s” of this world. Remember, if the Magi had followed Herod’s instructions, they would have found an empty manger with no Lord to be worshipped.

Instead, we need to follow the light of God’s Word, like the star of old, and let our Bibles teach us of His way. Let the instruction of the Word of God lead our lifestyles. Let us be empowered by the Holy Spirit, taking on the form of the substance of truth Jesus told us we must have in order to worship Him correctly (John 4:23-24).

It begins with expressing the love of God in our lives by keeping His commandments. “And this is the love that we walk after His commandments” (2 John 1:6). “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and His commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3). Contrary to what many believe today, “the Law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Rom. 7:12).

So it is imperative that if we want to be real Christians, it begins with distancing ourselves from going in the wrong direction. And though the choice is ours, Christmas happens to be one of those items going in the wrong direction. Begin to turn your life around. Start distancing yourself from the things of this world that mislead you from the truth of God (Jer. 10:1-8).


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