Sermon on Luke 2:1-7, preached on Christmas Day Morning Service (25 Dec 2018).
Bible Reading: (NT) Luke 2:1-7
6. The baby Jesus was wrapped and laid in a manger
7. There was no place for them in the inn
Jesus’ birth is unusual to the eyes of all people in the world – I mean, both the believers and the unbelievers alike. To the unbelievers who reject the gospel message of Jesus’ free grace, it is unusual because the Nativity story sounds irrational to their ears. They can’t see how Jesus could be born of a virgin. To us who believe in Him, the Lord, it sounds perfectly true. Yet, this story of Jesus’ birth is still ‘unusual’ to us Christians because it is deeply and fully saturated with grace and mercy we don’t deserve, because the Triune God’s full action in this event greatly amazes our souls, thus, moves our hearts.
We heard the first five of the seven ‘unusual’ things about Jesus’ birth last Sunday. This morning, we’ll hear the last two unusually gracious and unusually strengthening truth about Jesus’ coming to this world so that we could come to the Father. If you want to know more about the first five unusual things about Jesus’ birth, please visit our church’s website which is found on the back of today’s service order sheet, and check the sermon out posted there.
So, today, let us consider the next two unusually gracious things about Jesus’ birth.
6. THE BABY JESUS WAS WRAPPED AND LAID IN A MANGER
The first thing is ‘The baby Jesus was wrapped and laid in a manger.’ First of all, Jesus was wrapped with swaddling cloths. Is there anything unusual with it? Nothing. Rather, it’s quite normal for wrapping or clothing newborn babies with things like swaddling cloths. Then, what about lying Him in a manger? That’s unusual, in fact, weird because no one does that. Newborn infants and their mothers deserve a good rest at a safe, peaceful and comfortable place. Not in a manger.
In Jesus’ case, wrapping Him in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger is an extraordinary thing than a simple and ordinary thing people might do. Wrapping Him and lying Him in a manger signifies His purpose of coming into this world, namely, to redeem those God the Father elected and gave to Jesus to save them from sin. By the way, saying ‘God’s elect,’ I mean, not a special kind of people, but all who respond to the gospel of Jesus and come to Him in true repentance and faith. The baby Jesus was wrapped and laid in a manger to show us a vividly colourful picture of His salvation!
Talking about picture, it reminds me of a photo I saw on someone’s Facebook page last week which is about Christmas. In that photo, a halved Christmas wreath is joined with a halved thorn crown, and above the halved wreath, it says, ‘This is the season,’ and above the halved crown of thorn, says, ‘This is the reason.’ What a brilliant way of presenting the message of Christmas.
That’s exactly what this picture of Jesus wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger portrays. A newborn baby Jesus is the Saviour of the world and this Saviour King is welcomed by the hands of His human parents, Mary and Joseph. Then, this Saviour born as a baby, wrapped with swaddling cloths, will soon be wrapped with a linen shroud and His body be laid in a tomb. Do you see two pictures overlapping each other, just like that Christmas wreath joined with a thorn crown? Jesus’ coming had been foretold by the OT prophets and, at the actual birth, the angels sang praises to this newborn King. Even a bright star appeared, led the wise men to Jesus and finally shone on that stable Jesus was laid! The whole universe rejoiced with this arrival of the Saviour King, the Lord.
His rather quiet birth at a corner of that small town shook not just the Herod’s palace and all in Jerusalem, but the whole universe mightily with praises and thanks for the glory in the highest, peace on earth and goodwill toward men! And that was because His being wrapped and laid in a manger declared His upcoming atoning death on the cross for the sinners like you and me and many more after us, and also declared His victory over sin and death on the third day through His rising from the tomb! That glorious gospel message of Jesus was comprehended in this picture of Jesus wrapped and laid in a manger!
So, this is unusually gracious, unusually amazing truth about Jesus’ birth. This overlap of two pictures doubles our joy in Him and triples our sure hope in Jesus, our Saviour, for eternity with Him!
7. THERE WAS NO PLACE FOR THEM IN THE INN
The second and the last of the seven unusual things is, ‘There was no place for them in the inn.’ Why did Joseph and Mary have no place to stay, other than a stable? Because there were too many people in the town and because there were not enough inns to accommodate that crowd. It’s a simple answer and nothing’s unusual with this. First come, first served; and Joseph with Mary came late.
Then, why was there such a crowd? Because everyone had to comply the civil order and do the required census registration. The whole town and nation were busy, doing their works of the world they belonged to. Too busy to turn their eyes to Mary and Joseph, too occupied with their everyday chores to notify even a pregnant woman. The King was about to arrive and soon did arrive, but the crowd did pay no attention to Him! Only a handful of people like those shepherds in the field heard the news and came to worship. What a strange story this is! So unusual is this fact that none welcomed Him in.
It’s not surprising to see the same happens even now in our days. Shopping centres are packed with people in every Christmas season; the airways set in the sky are so busy with airplanes carrying passengers, holiday travellers to various holiday destinations, but not many recognise the true meaning of Christmas. As was no room for the King in Bethlehem, still no room is there in the hearts of many people. The Saviour King arrived at Bethlehem 2000 years ago, the same King inaugurated at His resurrection has been reigning in His throne, yet, so many wanderers are still outside of these walls of Christ church, outside of Christ’s kingdom!
This last of the seven unusual truth about Jesus’ birth tells us the urgent need for those people lost in the world to hear about Jesus and know the true meaning of Christmas. We Christians receive a good opportunity every year to share Christ with people around us, and we must take this opportunity and make the most of it! So, let us speak about Jesus; tell this crowd whose concern is on their everyday chores that this is their time to turn their eyes to heaven and see Jesus the Saviour and meet Him the Lord!
May the Lord Jesus who came in flesh 2000 years ago be the only reason for our joy on this Christmas Day. And may this be the same for all people around us by God’s grace! The baby Jesus came that we may have life and have it abundantly! Amen, and merry Christmas to you all upon whom the Lord’s saving grace has been abundantly poured! ***