You know what a manger is, right? First from Greek, then from the French word "manger," (pronounced "mon- ZHAY") which means "to eat," it's a food tough for animals. Not just your cute little pet puppy, but the animals who live outside.
People in those days were dirty enough. It's said that the lowest servant was the one assigned to wash a person's feet when they entered a house. No one wanted to smell a person's feet! Can you imagine how dirty and smelly the barn animals were?
Most of us aren't farmers - but if you are, go take a look at your pigs' feeding trough. If you are not, and you have a pet, go take a look at their food dish. I'm not a farmer. I have indoor cats. What I see in their food dish is crumbs of slopped up food and tracks of slobber. This is after the dish had been washed (and used again).
Yuck. I don't even want to put my finger in it, let alone a brand new baby. You see, I was spoiled. I had three babies. All three were born in a fantastic hospital. Each baby was delivered by doctors and nurses who were wrapped and covered in clean scrubs and latex gloves and used completely sterile instruments. Each baby was taken, after a few moments with me, and washed head to toe. Each baby was monitored there in that clean hospital over the next two days to make sure no terrible germs had invaded their little bodies.
What if the nurse would have put one of my newborn babies on the floor instead of the bassinet lined with starched white sheets? She'd probably have been fired. I mean, do you know what could be on those floors? All the dirt and, um, everything ELSE that people track in on the bottoms of their shoes! THAT could have gotten on the skin of my precious baby.
So, Mary gave birth to her first-born child - stop right there and remember how much more we wash our hands before holding someone's FIRST child - and where did the God of the universe decide was the best place put Him down? In the feeding trough.
That's right. When our infinite God squished himself into the finite body of a baby human, dependent on other finite humans to understand His needs, He was perfectly fine to lay his head in the place where the unclean mouths of the cows and donkeys left their saliva.
What does this say? So many things, but here are a few.
1. God's way is not our way. It probably isn't generally a good idea for babies to be laid in a food dish. Neither is it preferred to beat and crucify innocent men for just proclaiming the truth. Sometimes God had other plans when it came to saving us from our sins.
2. Jesus was given to a race of people who did not know how to take care of Him. But that's okay. We aren't supposed to take care of him. He came to take care of us.
3. He is the Bread of Life. I don't think it was an accident that Jesus was laid in a manger. Though it's doubtful anyone realized it at the time, Jesus would spend His whole life giving every piece of Himself for us. And He is meant to be taken internally, straight to the heart, to give us complete health.
4. Mary trusted God. When I was pregnant with my first baby, I was terrified that not everything would go right. My biggest fear was that I wouldn't make it to the hospital in time. Mary was a new mom just the same as I was. (OK, she was a little different.) But she trusted that if God said it would be okay to let the baby sleep in a pile of hay, it would be okay.
Do we trust God like that? If God said put your baby on a dirty hospital floor, or in a food dish hoping that wild animals don't come and eat him, would you? Maybe the task He gave you is even harder than that. If God told you to go somewhere where the floors are a little dirtier than you are used to or eat food that isn't as clean as you would like, would you?
We are sheep. We have been given something to sustain us forever. Are we going to accept it? Will we take Him in? We are hungry. He knows how to take care of us. He will feed us.
Passion Under Grace,