Tag Archives: manger

The Shepherd’s Birth

If I were to ask you who was invited to the birth of Jesus, most of you would answer, “Shepherds and wisemen.” I believe that answer is wrong. Only shepherds were invited to the birth. Many scholars believe the wisemen May not have shown up for over a year after His birth. I still believe it’s important that the wisemen came because they showed that Jesus would be the King of Kings. Now think about the manger scene with just shepherds. Interesting.

Why would God only announce the birth of the Savior of the world to shepherds and no one else? Why would the place God prepared for Him to be born be a barn? I believe we can go back to Psalm 23 for that answer. The Lord is my shepherd. God finds that shepherds make great kings. They provide for their flock, they lead them and protect them too. Before Jesus was a carpenter, He was born a shepherd.

When the wisemen went to King Herod looking for where the messiah was born, Matthew 2:6 says they read him, “And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel” (NLT). God knew we would need a shepherd more than a king. While kings rule and dictate, shepherds lead and serve. People were looking for a king to free them from the oppression of the Romans. Instead God sent them a shepherd to free them from their sin.

If you’ve accepted Jesus as king of your life, have you let Him also be your shepherd? Have you given Him not just the ability to rule, but also to lead? Sheep willingly follow where their shepherd leads, but subjects are forced to obey a king. God doesn’t force us to serve Him as a king would. Instead, He invites us to follow Him out of love. I believe shepherds were the only ones invited to His birth to remind us God knew we needed a shepherd more than a king.

Photo by Dan Kiefer on Unsplash

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Entertaining Unaware

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I don’t think the innkeeper ever gets enough credit at Christmas. Sure, we mention him in passing when reading Luke 2 for our plays, but no one ever really thinks about him. To me, he played a critical role in the birth of our Savior. He provided the setting for every nativity you’ve ever seen. Yet have you ever looked at a nativity and thought of him? I know the scene isn’t about him, but it wouldn’t look like that if it weren’t for him.

We know that Ceasar Augustus had called for a census. It’s not like the censuses we take today where government workers come to your house and ask you questions. Each family had to travel to the hometown of their ancestors. For Joseph, that was Bethlehem. It was an 80 mile trip that he and Mary had to walk or ride by donkey. Mary was obviously in her third trimester and I’m sure had to stop pretty often.

By the time the two of them arrived, the town was full. I’m sure they went to his family to try to stay with them. After having no luck with any of his family, they started going to the inns in the city, but quickly found out it was no better. Joseph must have been getting desperate. Mary could have been having contractions and he needed some place for his son to be born. As the sun set, he knew they were out of options. Maybe this particular innkeeper had compassion on them and offered shelter in the stable.

We really don’t know the details, but what we do know is that they ended up in his stable. This particular innkeeper thought differently than the others. With no room in the inn, he offered them the only other place he had. He wasn’t going to turn a weary pregnant woman away. I’m sure he had no idea that she was carrying his Messiah. I’m sure he didn’t know that his stable would become a sanctuary. We simply know that he offered what he had and it was more than enough to be the setting for the birth of the King of Kings.

It makes me wonder how many times I’ve not had time or room for people in my life. How many times have I been like the other innkeepers in Bethlehem? What if some of them were sent to me by God? I believe that God gives us daily opportunities to open up and let others into the inn of our lives, but too often we are busy and are full so we turn them away. I believe if we found even just a small space for them, we could change their world. Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not forget or neglect or refuse to extend hospitality to strangers [in the brotherhood – being friendly, cordial, and gracious, sharing the comforts of your home and doing your part generously], for through it some have entertained angels without even knowing it (AMP).” The innkeeper entertained the Son of God unaware evacuee he was open to helping others.

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Getting To Bethlehem

From the moment Jesus was born, people began to look for Him. The heavenly announcements rang throughout the universe. God wanted everyone to know His son was born. He took His omnipotent power, wrapped it in flesh and made Himself as vulnerable as He could. He wanted us to know the depths of His love by giving up everything to come be a part of our broken world. From His announcements, three types of people came to see the child. They were all eager to find Him, but not all reached their goal.

The first to hear the news were shepherds in a field. God looked for those who were nearby to tell the news to. They were sitting around chatting when an angel appeared to give them the announcement. After he told them, more appeared and they begs to sing. Luke 2:16 says they hurried to Bethlehem and found the baby. When some of us hear the story of Jesus, we hurry to accept Him into our lives. We hear the Good News and rush to a changed life. Rich or poor, God doesn’t care, He just wants to find those who will listen and be moved.

The next to find out about the birth of Jesus were the wise men from the east. They saw a star that lead them to Bethlehem. Many theologians believe that it took them around two years to make their way to Bethlehem. When the arrived in Judea, the found the palace in Jerusalem to inquire about the new king. King Herod explained there was no king born. He called the priests in and asked where the Messiah would be born. When they said Bethlehem, he sent them there, but wanted to know where in Bethlehem.

I love how “The Bible” series depicted the wise men arriving to see Jesus. They had this look of shock on their face. One of them said, “The King of kings was born in the most humble of places.” For some of us, the birth and life of Jesus doesn’t make sense. We are a far way off from salvation. It takes us time to come to the truth and to have our lives changed. We don’t accept the message right away, but we continue to seek. If that’s you, God is still calling out and sending His signs to lead you to His son. Keep seeking and you will find Him.

The third person heard about the birth from the wise men. After the left for Bethlehem, King Herod was scared that he would lose his throne. He didn’t want to give up everything he had to embrace everything God had. He set out to kill the baby and stop the message. An angel appeared to Joseph though and warned him. His family alone was spared from the massacre. There are many who will hear the story of Jesus, but will refuse to give up their lives for His. They won’t want to get off the throne of their lives and let God be in control. They will do everything they can to stop the Gospel. Yet God still invites them to come.

John 3:16 says, “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” Each of us have been invited to come and see. Each of us reading this have heard the announcement of His birth. Whether you’re near or far, the choice is yours to make your way to that manger. The choice is yours to accept eternal life. God has not quit announcing His plan. When we hear it, we have to choose to get off the throne of our life and let Him sit on it, we can choose to seek Him more or we can choose to try to do away with the message. It’s your decision.

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