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Luke 2:7 was the verse for our family devotional time a few days ago And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn’.  My wife Rebecca, 4 year old daughter Amelia, and myself sat down to read our bible together and to start the day in the Lords presence.  Our devotional booklet led us to the birth of Jesus from Luke 2:1-7 and what the Holy Spirit got me thinking about was the manger!  So I went away to ponder v7 and read sermons by other people.  As I considered the manger more I could see the Gospel more clearly.  Actually the manger overflows with Good News for us.

Firstly the manger was a place of alienation.  V7 clearly tells us that Jesus was placed in a manger after he was born because there was no room at the inn for Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus.  There were probably a number of people travelling to Bethlehem at the time to complete their registration which Caesar Augustus decreed.  All the public facilities were full, leaving Joseph and Mary to stay where the animals resided, thus when the baby was born, they placed him in a manger to lie.  Luke wants us to be aware that the King of the Universe was alienated right from his birth.  There was no place in people’s lives for this King.  This is a question we all need to ask this December: Is there room in our lives for Jesus to reside?

Not only was this verse used in our family devotions, but it was a verse I preached on in a carol service in a local nursing home.  I found this point rather appropriate as many in the nursing home may have experienced and felt rejected like Jesus had.  Many people are placed in a nursing home to meet their needs and for their benefit but  that doesn’t change the fact that some may have felt abandoned and rejected by family who could not welcome them into their homes – there was no place at the inn for them!  I wanted to encourage the residents that there was a saviour who could sympathise with them and understand their situation.  They needed to know that Jesus was ‘A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief’ (Isaiah 53:3).

This Christmas there is good news that Jesus was alienated and placed in a manger because there was no room in the inn for him.  That is good news for us because he was alienated so we don’t have to be alienated from God.  He was separated so we could be reconciled to his father and when we feel alienated in life we can turn to the only one who can fully understand and help.

Secondly the manger is a place of appetite.  I found it interesting that Jesus was placed into an animal feeding tray!  This would have been the place where the travelling animals would have eaten their food and found a place of rest.  Also Jesus was born in Bethlehem which was also known as the ‘House of Bread’ so food is associated to his birth and is a large part of our Christmas time celebrations.  In John 6:35 Jesus states that ‘He is the bread of life...’ and as I considered  this I believe a reasonable application and truth for me and my family is the fact that Jesus is the one who can truly satisfy our spiritual appetites.  We can go to many things this Christmas to try and satisfy us, food being one of the main ones, but although I love my food, it is only Jesus who will deeply and eternally satisfy my soul.

Finally the manger is place of access. When Prince George and Princess Charlotte where born, I wonder how many people were allowed free access to go and visit them?!!  I bet they had the highest level of security and only the closest family members were allowed access.  I know when my daughter was born 4 years ago, there were only 2 people allowed to visit at any one time and the hospital had security doors and CCTV watching that no unwanted people were allowed into the facilities.  However, the manger speaks of free access for anybody who wants to come to baby Jesus and according to Luke we see that it was the hard working shepherds who were the first to visit Jesus.  Depending on your view of the time scale, it is possible that the wise men from the East were another group to visit and worship Jesus so what we see at the manger is access for anybody who wanted to come to him no matter what their background or present religious, social, or economical standing.  This King has come to be accessible to all.

Remember that there is Good News for All this Christmas.  The manger teaches us some special truth about our God, Saviour and King.  I hope and pray that this blog will encourage you and cause you to sing ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased’ (Luke 2:14).

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