"And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." (Luke 2:12)
When God sent Jesus Christ as a gift to the world, He didn't want anyone to miss it. So He gave signs to confirm Christ's birth. One sign was that the baby would be born in a manger.
A manger is literally a feeding trough for beasts. This was Jesus' first bed, a place where pigs, cows, horses, and sheep were fed. Jesus didn't have a nice oak crib with a Simmons Beautyrest mattress. No, He slept in a stone trough, the kind used in Palestine at that time. His first resting place was a cold, hard, dirty manger. The angel gave a very specific sign to help the shepherds identify their Messiah. Not many babies have an animal feeding trough for their first crib! I don't know of any, besides Jesus.
The manger has spiritual significance because it illustrates Jesus' purpose in coming to earth. Our hearts can be just like that feeding trough―unclean and oftentimes cold and hard like stone. Even so, our spiritual hearts hunger to know God.
Human hearts are not only unclean, but often beastly. We have a fallen and sinful nature, but that's why Jesus came. God the Son became a man to die for our sins and bring forgiveness and new life with God. When we repent of our sin and receive Jesus Christ, we discover the greatest Christmas gift of all: God's love. Oh, how restless and disquieted our hearts can be without Christ!
Augustine said, "Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee."
Jesus said, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). Your heart, like that manger, can be a place of rest with Jesus.
(Sent by permission from Pastor Wayne Taylor; firstname.lastname@example.org)