By the actions and priorities of the majority of society, it seems as though they would like to keep the Lord in the manger.
The account of Christʼs birth is fundamental to the Gospel. When Matthew began recording the beginning events of the Gospel, he wrote “now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise” (Matt 1:18). It was precisely on that wise that the Lordʼs incarnation as man was foretold by the prophets of old, thus “now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet” (Matthew 1:22). The writer then quotes the words of the prophet in Isaiah 7:14 which gave details to the event. In addition to the fulfillment of prophecy, this account is significant because of the humble nature of His birth. However, too many focus on this portion of His life as if there were no more to it. They would rather see baby Jesus than see the man who cleared the temple of the moneychangers or who later brought the price of sin to manʼs attention. After all, man would owe no gratitude--no personal responsibility to an infant in a manger.
What if there were no more to the life of Christ than His miraculous birth and humble beginning? While these things are indeed important and beautiful, they are but a small part of the vast mosaic which is the account of our Saviorʼs life. When the angel of the Lord appeared unto Joseph in a dream, he was told to name the child Jesus, “for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). After leaving the manger, “the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40). He began His ministry at the age of thirty, teaching and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, confirming the message by healing (Matthew 4:23; 9:35; cf Mark 16:20). Throughout His life He remained sinless, a quality which enabled Him to carry out His mission to be our sin offering (2 Corinthians 5:21). This sacrifice was realized when He selflessly gave Himself to die on the cruel cross of calvary. If the child had never left the manger, there would be no hope of salvation for us. When one limits his view of Christ to the precious little babe in Bethlehem, he doesnʼt see who the child became and all that He did for mankind.
Perhaps while leaving the Lord in the manger, many also choose to leave the seeking up to the shepherds and magi. It is essential to oneʼs salvation that he seek the Lord. On one occasion our Lord said “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). The Hebrews writer stated that “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6 emp. added). Therefore in order to be reconciled and rewarded one must seek the Son! This can be done in the obedience of His Word. This is clearly seen in Jamesʼ assessment that “of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures” (James 1:18). Every December 25th multitudes of people celebrate the miraculous birth of Jesus, never to seek the Savior He became, but instead to seek worldly pleasure and revelry only five days later.
When one leaves the Lord in the manger and leaves the seeking to the shepherds, it only follows that he would leave the offering up to the magi. Christmas pageants and carols throughout the country recount how the wise men made their journey to Jesus, guided by a star, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Many acknowledge and accept this account without so much as asking themselves “what do I have in offering to the Lord?” Man is expected to render his reverent service to the Lord. Paul wrote in his epistle to the Romans, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). In addition to offering oneʼs self by living for Him, one must continually give an offering of praise and worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). It was a command when the Holy Spirit through the hand of Paul proclaimed “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col 3:16). Because the righteous seek the home prepared for them, they must “offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15).
It is precious when you choose to meditate on the birth of his Lord and Savior no matter what day of the year it happens to be. In fact, Christʼs entire life should be the focus of your daily meditation for as long as the breath is within you. When the Savior stated “this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me,” it was a practice to be done on the first day of every week (1 Corinthians 11:25; cf 1 Corinthians 16:2; Acts 2:42; 20:7). Let us focus on His whole life often, always remembering His sacrifice and what it means for mankind.