An Empty Manger!

Time to read: 3 mins

A baby in a manger. It’s the focus of Christmas time. We’re very thankful for the love and humility of the Saviour that brought him to earth as a real baby boy although still almighty God.

But Jesus is no longer the baby in the manger. He is no longer the boy in the temple at Jerusalem. He is no longer working in Joseph’s workshop in Nazareth. And we are glad of this. He had a greater work to do, to die to atone for the sins of his people. But again, he is no longer on the cross. He was taken down on the third day and buried in the garden tomb. But he is no longer there either. He rose again, victorious over sin, death, hell and the grave.

So, the Lord Jesus is no longer in the manger, he is no longer on the cross, he is no longer in the tomb. Nor does he still walk the earth as a man. So where is he today?

Firstly, Jesus is in heaven. 40 days after his resurrection, his disciples watched him ascend. He is now there, at the right hand of God the Father, as his people’s mediator, interceding for them – ‘It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.’ (Romans 8:34, but read the whole passage, verses 31-38) . What this means is that Jesus is there, day and night, praying for his people, pleading their case (as in a courtroom) and always reminding God that he died on their behalf to atone for their sins. As the God-man, he makes that link between his people, sinful yet forgiven human beings, and God the Father.

Secondly, Jesus is everywhere. He is true almighty God, Lord of heaven and earth. He rules the universe. He is omniscient (knowing everything), he is omnipotent (all powerful). We live day by day in a fallen world that is opposed to everything we stand for as Christians. Life can be very tough. But Jesus is on the throne. Everything is at his command, nothing takes him by surprise, and everything that happens is for his glory and for the ultimate good of his people (Romans 8:28). One day, he will also judge the world and divide his people from his enemies. Linking our first two points, Christ as ruler is a comfort, but if he is not our mediator, Christ as judge will be terrible.

Thirdly, Jesus is within each of his people. Christians have a new identity, they have been completely changed (2 Corinthians 5:17), they are now united to Christ. They are in him and he is within them. Not only is this a fundamental doctrine, it is a reality (Ephesians 5:31-32) and has wide ranging practical implications and encouragements for us. Just a few examples – there are loads more:

  • We are freed from the power of sin (Romans 6:1-14).
  • It is the basis of our fruitfulness (John 15:1-6).
  • It is the source of all the blessings that we receive from God (Ephesians 1:1-14).
  • Ultimately it is the only way we can get to heaven – ‘To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.’ (Colossians 1:27).

Over the next few days, as you focus on the Lord Jesus in the manger, keep in mind the reason he came to earth ‘to save his people from their sins’ and ask yourself the question, ‘Is he in my heart?’

This Christmas is strange and difficult for many of us. However, if we can see the reality of union with Christ, it will give us the peace the angels sung of above Bethlehem when Jesus was lying in the manger.

Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love’s sake becamest poor;
Thrones for a manger didst surrender,
Sapphire-paved courts for stable floor.
Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love’s sake becamest poor.

Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love’s sake becamest man;
Stooping so low, but sinners raising
Heavenward by Thine eternal plan.
Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love’s sake becamest man.

Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship thee.
Immanuel, within us dwelling,
Make us what Thou wouldst have us be.
Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship Thee.

Thank you for reading the blog through 2020 and especially for the feedback and encouragement some of you have sent. I hope the blog continues to he helpful.

We wish you all a very happy Christmas!

[A00146 – 23/12/2020]

2 Comments on An Empty Manger!

  1. You have produced some thought-provoking and helpful blogs.
    They are also presented in a professional style. Thank you.
    Keep up the good work.
    I wish you well for 2021

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