The Miracle of the Manger

30 Dec

You can listen the podcast for this message here.

I know Christmas was last week, but we need to talk about one more thing. We live in a very skeptical society, but in this season, I find it incredibly interesting that we will take our children all over the place to get their picture made sitting on the lap of a jolly old elf. We all know people who make false and fraudulent claims; claims don’t come true; claims that disappoint. There are plenty of people that say things only a fool would believe. The virgin birth of Christ is one such claim. People that are skeptical of the virgin birth are skeptical about other things as well. Exactly who is this baby lying in the manger? Could he really be who everyone says he is? Is it possible that he really is who he claims to be? What if He is?

Take a look at that incredible passage in John 1:1-5, 9-14.

Could He be who He claims to be? John’s Gospel describes this miracle of the manger. The big question for humanity is, “Who exactly is this child?” And, “What is He here for?” Think about the miracle of the manger and the incredible claims made regarding this child. Jesus is born into the humblest of circumstances. His mother is a very ordinary, plain, simple, poor young girl named Mary. He is born in a stable, a barn in a small, obscure little town called Bethlehem. He came making unbelievable claims that centered on His identity. He claimed to be sent from God; claimed to be the Son of God, and even claimed to be God. Remember the angel’s announcement about this child in the manger, “Today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) That’s a pretty remarkable claim. Fast forward 30 years. As an adult, Jesus made some incredible claims. He said He was the Bread of Heaven and could satisfy our hunger. He said He was the Living Water which could satisfy our deepest thirst. Jesus claimed the power and authority to forgive sins and to freely offer God’s grace and mercy. Jesus claimed to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He claimed to be the Resurrection, the only hope of escaping God’s judgment, the only path to eternal life. Jesus claimed all authority in heaven and on earth, and He promised to return to judge the world in righteousness.

What can we make of such claims? There were some that said He was blasphemous for making such claims. There are some that would ignore them altogether. There are those who don’t take His incredible claims seriously. The religion of Islam teaches that Jesus was a prophet and teacher. Hindus teach that Jesus is one way of many to find God. Many people admire Jesus as a good example to follow, but when you get down to it, that’s all that He is to them. Jesus didn’t leave us the option of just thinking He was a good example, a good teacher, or a good man. His own claims leave no room for that position, even though many people hold that view of Jesus. There are really only have three views concerning Jesus’ claims. He was who He claimed to be: the Lord of all. He made these claims knowing they were false and therefore He was a liar. Or He made these claims because He believed them to be true, but in reality they were not, which makes Him deceived or a lunatic. So the three choices are Lord, a liar, or a lunatic. He cannot be just a good example; a good teacher; a good man.

What if He is who He claims to be? Think for just a second about the implication of that statement. What if there is someone who knows your name, who knows where you live. He knows your thoughts, dreams, and ambitions. He even knows everything about you, all the wrong you’ve done, and He still loves you and longs for you to know and love Him. What if this child in Bethlehem really is the miracle of the manger? What if this Jesus really is who He claims to be? If He is, then you and I have a decision to make. It is a matter of eternal significance for each one of us. What we decide about this child born in Bethlehem not only determines our eternal destiny, it also determines our earthly direction as well. We cannot accept the claims of Christ without recognizing that He has a claim on our lives. If He is who He says He is, then all of His promises are true. Then He really can wipe away a painful past and take away the burden of guilt and regret. He can give us a whole new reason to live and fill us with the fullness of His love, His life, His grace. It’s all true.

So we have an en eternal choice: do you believe? Everyone needs to consider that question and answer it for ourselves. No one can decide for us when it comes to this miracle of the manger. Jesus puts His disciples on the spot one day. Matt. 16:13-16 says, “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” Now that’s the question of a lifetime. “But who do you say that I am?” That’s the question and I can’t answer the question for you. I can tell you what I believe, but you have to answer it for yourself. Do you have an answer? Do you believe that Christ is who He claimed to be? But when we consider this child born in Bethlehem, there is an important change of roles for you and for me. When we come before Christ, we don’t sit in judgment of Him. It is Jesus Christ who is the Lord of lords and the King of kings. This miracle of the manger is God in the flesh. He is judge of all. We don’t determine His fate. It is Jesus Christ who will determine our final destiny. Paul told the church at Corinth that, “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Cor. 5:10) The miracle of the manger is that God became flesh and lived among us. Jesus came not so He could send us to eternal punishment but to set us free. God became flesh so He could free us to live the life that He has planned for us. God came so that we could know Him and love Him. The miracle of the manger is that God became man so that we could become children of God. John said, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12)

If you will open your heart to Christ and trust Him to be exactly who He claimed to be, you will not be disappointed. Let this Christmas be the one that Christ will heal your deepest hurts and fulfill your deepest longings. He will prepare a place for you, a wonderful new home where you will spend forever. You will receive a new dad, one who is perfect and holy and just. One who is all that He claims to be.

Thanks once again to the great folks at Lifeway for providing the theme for this message series and some of the content.

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