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Away in a Manger

The Lamb of God is born

Christmas is the day that we choose to celebrate Jesus’ birth but the magnitude of Christ’s birth cannot be fully felt without also acknowledging His death. The miraculous, humble arrival of baby Jesus leaves us in awe and wonder but it also points us back to the sobering reality of the cross. The explicit foreshadowing of Jesus’ death is woven throughout the Biblical account of the Christmas story and it is through it that we are reminded that Jesus came to earth for a specific purpose—to be the sacrificial Lamb who would be slain for the sins of the world. That’s why it’s no coincidence that God would deliberately choose a group of shepherds to be the first to hear the news of Jesus’ birth. For them, the nativity scene would take on a much deeper meaning. Tucked away in a manger lay the perfect Lamb of God.

"This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12

It is in Luke’s Gospel where we find the only mention of the manger or an animal feeding trough that became the humble crib for the Christ child. While we may overlook it as an insignificant detail, the manger was actually very symbolic during the Jewish culture of the time. According to Jewish sacrificial rituals, it was of the utmost importance to offer only the best firstborn lambs to be a sacrifice for the atonement of the sins of the people. Jewish priests would carefully inspect sacrificial lambs for any imperfections and would wrap the lambs without blemish in cloth and place them in stone mangers to protect them.

Bethlehem, though a small and seemingly insignificant town, was famous for their unblemished, perfect lambs for sacrifice and so God would choose Bethlehem as the fitting birthplace for Christ Jesus. When the shepherds found Jesus wrapped tightly in swaddling cloths and placed in a manger, they would have immediately recognized the sign that the angel spoke about and known that Jesus was the perfect Lamb of God, the promised Saviour and the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. Jesus, whose name means “to deliver” or “to rescue,” would live the perfect life that we couldn’t live to bear our sins upon the cross and pay the ultimate price for our sin debt once and for all.

As we ready our hearts to celebrate Christmas this year, let us remember that the reason for the joy that we have has less to do with Jesus’ birth as it is does His death. Jesus was sent to us to die for us so that through His death, we would have everlasting life. May we thank Him for His redemptive plan and His atoning sacrifice for us. Worthy is the Lamb!


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