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Christmas Eve

WHO WAS IN THE MANGER?

Christmas Eve 2017


What wonderful events happened before Jesus was born, on the night He was born, and after He was born. 


Events that included a young Mary, who was chosen by God to give birth to Jesus. A plan to which Mary agreed.


And an older Joseph, who was betrothed to Mary. The one chosen by God to stay with Mary and help raise the baby, despite the fact her baby was not his. A plan to whichJoseph agreed.


And some shepherds on duty near Bethlehem the night Jesus was born. Shepherds who heard from an angel and then from a multitude of the Heavenly host that the Savior had just been born. An announcement that led them to Bethlehem, where they met Jesus, the one they joyously proclaimed as they returned to their sheep.

And a group of men a thousand miles to the east. Men known as wise. Men who were indeed wise. Wise enough to be so curious about a new star they saw in the sky that they went to meet the one they assumed the star announced - the new king - the Savior.


Like it was for Mary and Joseph, the call of this season is for us to be obedient to God’s plan.

Like it was for the shepherds, the call is for us to respond to news about Jesus - news in the Bible - by excitedly getting close to Jesus and then tell others about Him.


Like it was for the Wise Men, the call is for us to be curious enough to want to learn about the one so important a star was formed just to announce Him.


To be able to be obedient, excited, and curious, it is vital to return to the manger. To think about who was in the manger. What that one grew up to be. 


Definitely the Savior. That is what Mary and Joseph and the shepherds were told about Him. It is what the Wise Men interpreted the new star to announce about Him. Jesus was and is definitely the Savior, but how about some other descriptions. Some of the hundreds of names Jesus has in the Bible.


Such as the Bread of Life


We of course know the importance of physical bread. Physical food. It is necessary to maintain physical life. 


But Jesus also offers spiritual bread, which is needed to keep us going spiritually. Bread that is the word of God. Bread that is His presence through the Holy Spirit. Bread that can keep us obedient and curious and interested in having a good relationship with God. 


As we return to the manger - as often as we think about Jesus - may we see that He is the Bread of Life.


Counselor is another name of Jesus.


Whether counselors on earth are in schools or social agencies, they are interested in the well-being of their students or their clients. They provide encouragement, guidance, advice. 


On a spiritual level, that is what Jesus does. Of course, those who accept Jesus are more likely to want His help and follow it, so be sure that you have accepted Him as your Savior. But none of us has to wonder what we are to do with our lives. Jesus is available to guide us into all we should do.


As we return to the manger, may we see that He is our wonderful Counselor.


Another name for Jesus is Prince of Peace.


Concerning peace, we often think of the desire for world peace. That is certainly not evident this day and age, largely because not everyone in the world is a follower of Jesus, but such peace would be possible if all did follow Him.


We often have the desire for family peace. That, too, is possible if each member of a family knows and follows the teachings of Jesus, Jesus, directly in His own words and in His inspiration to get other books in the Bible, gives all sorts of directions about how people can live together peacefully.


But most especially, Jesus is the Prince of Peace concerning peace with God, which is the most crucial kind of peace there is because it lasts forever. However, without Jesus, there is no hope of peace with God. That is because sin separates people from God, and all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. All are doomed  except for the fact thatJesus, 33 years after His birth, died as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. All who accept Jesus as the perfect sacrifice are granted peace - peace with God - resulting in blessings now and the peace of Heaven later.


Another name of Jesus is the Way.


We want blessings now, do we not? We want Heaven later. We need spiritual bread. We need a counselor. But listen. It is not us being good enough or rich enough or smart enough or popular enough to have any of that. Nor is it through anyone or anything else that we can have any of it. Jesus is the way to get those things. 


As Jesus Himself said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by Me.”


As we return to the manger, may we see that Jesus is the one and only giver of peace. The one and only way to all that is good.


And listen to this. Another name of Jesus is the Alpha and Omega. The beginning and the end. The one who was and is and evermore shall be. 


What a wonderful promise is proclaimed in that name. The promise that Jesus always has been with us, that He is with us now, that He forever will be the Bread of Life and the Counselor and the Prince of Peace and the Way.


As we return to the manger, may we each be sure we accept Jesus for all He is. Not just a baby, but the one who grew up to be all the things His names announce. And more. The one who grew up to be the Savior. The Savior He is now, has been, and always will be.


And one more. Jesus is the Light of the World


What does physical light do? Among other things, it warms, it promotes growth, it makes our paths visible. All that is what Jesus does for us spiritually. He offers us all those things, which He gives to all who accept Him. 


The world was a dark place 2000 years ago. There is darkness even now in the lives of those who do not know Jesus. But He was then and is now the source of light. Again, be sure you accept Him so your life can be spiritually bright.


Let’s pray.


Lord, thank You for the examples of obedience, excitement, and curiosity You give to us in Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the Wise Men. May all those qualities also describe us. 


Lord, You are worthy of obedience, excitement, and curiosity, for You truly are the Bread of Life and our wonderful Counselor and the Prince of Peace and the Way and the Alpha and Omega and the Light of the World.


Thank You, Jesus, for coming. It is with joy we wish You a very Merry Christmas. Amen.