Salvation in a Manger

Rejoice greatly! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he,[and] humble.” An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’” “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 1:20-21; John 8:32,36; 14:6

“The grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” 1 Timothy 1:14-15

Anyone who has witnessed a baby’s arrival into the world recognizes the robust will and utter miracle of a tiny life being pushed into its new world, and the amazing helplessness that is then reality for this one utterly dependent on its mother in the womb. The starkness of Jesus’s birth to His young mother is a beautiful backdrop of the power He embodied to unleash grace to all mankind and set sinners free unto eternal life. This babe in a feeding trough? The agent of salvation in a manger? A king in a crude shelter in swaddling cloths? Yes!

Creche from islands, clay

And this is no dichotomy. Jesus, while ‘above and beyond’ all creatures, “for whom and by whom all things exist,” willfully became one of us as our brother to be able to bear the penalty of our sin. “Though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” “He had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” (Philippians 2:6-8; Hebrews 2:10-17)

“Mild he lays his glory by,
born that we no more may die,
born to raise us from the earth,
born to give us second birth.  

Hark! the herald angels sing,
‘Glory to the newborn King!'”  ~Charles Wesley (1739) with George Whitefield (1714-1770)

This Savior has come into our earthly mangers to save us, to give us daily power over words that bite, attitudes that muddy the atmosphere, criticisms and superior airs that demean. He came to lift us from shame and regret that impede our progress, despair that weighs down the heart, disappointment in unfulfilled dreams, and tight fists of self-interest that cripple our fruitfulness. He came as truth to set us free from uncertain belief, distorted thinking, insecurity, confusion.

Lord on high, may the lowliness of Your manger stoke humble gratitude and ever lift my sights to glorify You as King of kings.

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