And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Luke 2:12
On this Christmas Day it is with joy and awe that we approach the Babe, God Incarnate, Ruler of the Universe, tiny, vulnerable, and accessible to any and all who seek him. Jesus Christ from birth, appointed to bring salvation, not only to his own people, but to all those who were far off.
From the beginning there were signs, hints and clues, as to whom this wondrous Baby would be and what his ministry would entail. An angel appeared to his mother and father to foretell his birth; Wise Men were guided by a star to confirm his royalty; shepherds were surrounded by God’s glory and the angels’ announcement of Messiah; and Simeon and Anna affirmed the birth of the Promised One.
But have you noticed an obscure little clue that was present at the beginning when the angels appeared to the shepherds? The angel said to them, “You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” In French, the word manger (mahn-zhay) means “to eat.” Among his many “I Am” descriptors (self-description statements), Jesus would call himself the Bread of Life (John 6:35). In whatever language the words would be translated, this Messiah would say, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life…”(John 6:54)
Was it coincidental that Jesus would be found lying in a place where one would expect to find nourishment? The Son of God came to this world to bring Life—physical, emotional, spiritual—and only as we partake of him do we accrue to ourselves the fulfillment of this promise. As if to underscore this wonder, Jesus twice took handfuls of bread to feed the multitudes and to demonstrate his identity as Bread of Life. And as he handed out bits of broken bread to his disciples on that fateful night, he told them, “…eat, this is my body” (Matt. 26:26).
And in eating Jesus promises us, “… whoever comes to me shall not hunger” (John 6:35). In taking what Jesus offers, ingesting and chewing on it, and then swallowing and consuming it we participate in eternal life. Our hunger is satisfied; we are transformed; and nothing else will ever fulfill us.
On this Christmas Day, let us reverently approach the Baby lying in a manger.
O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel.