The Manger Was a Clue
By Paul David Tripp
For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. - Isaiah 53:2-5
In truth, that beautifully decorated tree, those gorgeously wrapped presents, and all that tasty holiday food, which make us happy during the Christmas season, are poor representations of the world into which Jesus was born and what his everyday life would be like. Jesus didn’t show up for a celebration. He wasn’t here for a vacation. His world wasn’t well decorated, and he surely wasn’t well fed. He came to a world that had been dramatically broken by sin, and his calling was to expose himself to the full range of its brokenness. This is where the details of Christ’s birth are important. It means something profoundly important that the cradle of his birth was a feeding trough in a borrowed barn. You are meant to pay attention to the fact that he wasn’t in a palace, attended to by servants. It’s important to notice that the first smells that entered his infant nostrils weren’t oils and perfumes, but animal smells.
These seemingly unimportant details set up a sharp contrast between our celebrations at Christmas and the true conditions of the Messiah’s entry into our world. Most of us would be in a complete panic if we had to birth a baby in such conditions. But none of this was an accident. These conditions were God’s plan. They announce to us that the Messiah came not to be served but to serve (Matthew 20:28). Since he came to rescue sufferers, it was essential that he suffer too. And his suffering wasn’t reserved for the cross; it started the moment he was born. Everything he suffered was on our behalf. He would suffer but not lose his way. He would suffer and not quit and walk away. He would suffer and not grow bitter and angry. He would suffer and not respond with vengeance. He would suffer without thinking, desiring, saying, or doing even one wrong thing. He exposed himself to our world, to live as we could not live, so that as the righteous One, he could pay the penalty for our sin and give us not only peace with God, but a ticket to a future where suffering would be no more.
Jesus suffered because he did not demand what was his right; he endured what was wrong so that we may be right with God.
The manger of his birth is a clue to what he came to do and what every day of his life would be like. The way God chose to rescue sufferers was by becoming a sufferer himself. Every moment of his suffering was done with us in view. Every dark moment of physical, relational, societal, and judicial suffering had a high and holy purpose to it: our salvation. You see, Jesus came to suffer because he came to be our Savior.
There’s nothing wrong with the shiny ornaments and bright lights. Your celebration of what Jesus willingly did for you should be a festival of overflowing joy. So celebrate the blessings you’ve received, the best of those being the gift of Jesus, by passing that blessing on to others with gifts of love. Eat wonderful food, but let it remind you of the lavish spiritual food that God feeds you with every day because of the willing sacrifice of his Son, Jesus.
Content taken from Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional by Paul David Tripp, ©2017. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Il 60187, www.crossway.org.
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