The Empty Manger
As I look down into the manger this Christmas season, I want to remember the simple birth of my Savior. The manger was empty so that Jesus could fill it with His glory so many years 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.” Luke 2:7 As I remember that empty manager, I see my life as the manager and I pray that my advocate, Jesus, will fill my life simply, yet fully as He filled the manger. This simple manger when filled with Christ became a beacon that called many to seek him so long ago just as we continue to seek him today. His simple beginnings remind me that He has walked my path and knows my struggle. As I struggle, I pray that God will fill the manger of my life, and He will take root in my heart.
Heart of the Manger
Prior to Christ’s birth the manger was empty and man struggled with his sin and evil heart. God knew that only the sacrifice of His Son would bring salvation to His people. How can we plant the seed of Christmas in our hearts and weed the evil from within? During this Christmas season, I hope that we all are reminded that we need Christ in our hearts. My desire is not for the heart of Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” but for the heart that God creates in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Christ in my heart is a promised blessing from Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” I pray that blessing for all this Christmas season. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7.
Seeking the Manager
The first Christmas when Christ was born the heavens rejoiced and many sought to find the manger and worship this Miracle Baby. The shepherds were in the fields with their flock that night so long ago when the heavens opened and the angels brought the great news to them. “When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us. And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.” Luke 2:15-16.
The wise men in Matthew 2:2 saw the star (link), “For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” They prepared for the journey to worship the Child in the manager. “After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.” Matthew 2: 9-10. Following the star the wise men found the child, “and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11.
Gift of the Manger
I often ponder the wise men and their travels to see the Christ child. I wonder about the gifts they brought. I have researched and studied the meaning of each, but I guess I have often been drawn to why they brought three. What does this mean? The number three can be found throughout scripture, but my curiosity was more interested in why the wisemen brought only three gifts and did these gifts somehow symbolize the gifts Christ’s birth brought to man. As I searched and read scripture, I found these verses in 1 John 5:6-8 that explain the three gifts Christ birth brought, “This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.” Christ did not come by water only into our lives which is the outward symbol of cleansing, but by blood which is his sacrifice so that His people might be saved. Christ sacrifice brought the Spirit which is the inward symbol of our cleansing. These gifts created the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”, and John 15:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
Closing Verse: Matthew 1:21, “She will bear a son, and you shall his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
Challenge: Fill the Manger of your heart this Christmas with Christ.