She gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in strips of cloth and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7
Everybody loves babies, right? Commuters in crowded airports, shoppers on a street corner, even hard-nosed businessmen who seldom crack a smile, always manage to pause and notice a baby. Babies are unaffected, sincere, unassuming, and pure. They are the stuff that angels and heaven are made of, right? No baby ever lies to you or stands you up. A baby has no guile, no pretense, and no hypocrisy.
But (and here’s the turning point) babies don’t stay babies for long. We enjoy the talcum power and goo-goos, but then we expect them to crawl, to walk, to run, to grow up. We know that the innocence will begin to fade about the time that school starts, and altogether too soon, a youngster begins to learn that life is not always as kind as his mother.
There is a funny thing, though, about Christmas and the Babe of Bethlehem. In many cases we are a lot more comfortable keeping Him in the crib than in recognizing that the Babe grew to childhood, then to maturity, and then faced the hideous reality of man’s separation from God as He went to the cross and died at the hands of the Romans. Some way, we are more comfortable in remembering the pastoral setting of a stable in Bethlehem than we are in thinking of Him kicking over tables in the Temple or rebuking the religious leaders of the day because of their hypocrisy. Yes, keep the Baby in the manger, asleep if possible.
But even then the world prefers an innocuous jolly Santa and his reindeer to the Baby who became the incarnate King of kings and who now stands at the door of God’s heaven considering the moment of His Second Advent.
It is no helpless, sleeping Babe of whom John wrote in the book of Revelation, saying, “His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one but he himself knows…. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations…. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has his name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:12,15-16).
Don’t keep the Babe in the manger. Let Him invade your life, your home, your thinking, your business, your relationships, your very soul. Let Him, as a living reality, touch your lives with His presence, not simply this month but every day of your lives.
Please don’t leave the Babe safely snoozing in the manger while you shop, go to parties, trim the tree, take the kids to see Santa, feed the reindeer, spend a bundle of money on cards with empty, meaningless messages of intended cheer and seasons greetings without mentioning the name, Jesus.
Don’t leave the Baby in the manger as you go over the fields to grandmother’s house singing “Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way.” Take Him with you. The birth of Jesus was a marvelous occasion, but I am reminded that the writers of the Gospels mentioned it rather briefly, then went on to elaborate on what He did.
In the prologue of his Gospel, John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it” (John 1:1-5). Please, don’t leave the Baby in the manger.
Resource reading: Luke 2:1-7.