When we think about the birth narrative in Luke, the manger often becomes one of the first things we point to. The manger becomes the focus of Jesus’ meager beginnings as a child. We point to the hardship, the drama, the simplicity. The manger often gets a lot of attention for what it says about Jesus’ birth. Rightfully so. In my preparation for my sermon this last Sunday, I read some comments from NT Wright on this passage and he likened the manger to a signpost, a marker, a pointing finger.
Why is this significant? To place our focus on the manger and to forget why it was mentioned in the first place is like celebrating a road sign and not the direction it points you in. When the angel appeared to the shepherds, he told them that the Messiah, the savior, their lord, had just been born in David’s town. They were invited to go find him. How would they know which baby to celebrate? The sign for them was that the child would be in a manger. The manger is only important for pointing to the God who chose to become like us in every way (Hebrews 2:17), taking on the very nature of humanity (Phil 2:5-11), while still having the fulness of God dwelling in him (Colossians 1:19, 2:9). The manger points to the baby who is greater than Augustus and every leader who came before and after.
You are a manger who carries Christ for the world to celebrate. In what ways do you desire to celebrate you rather than the one you should hold up? How will you lift up Christ this week so that the shepherds of our day will come and find him?