Luke 2:6,7 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Some of my earliest Christmas memories are centered around Christ being born in an animal feeding trough in a farm stable. It’s really unthinkable, the King and Creator of the universe came with that kind of humility. Obviously; accumulating wealth, possessions, and earthly titles is not why He came. He was on a mission and lived His short time on earth as an alien resident. He came to free us from the shackles of this earthly kingdom and place us in His heavenly reign. There is a slight catch in this narrative. We, like Him, become alien residents in this world as well. The manger reminds us of that; our lives as Christians are no longer about storing up treasures in this life. Like Christ we are just passing through. We are truly pilgrims, strangers, or aliens. This world is no longer our home and it no longer has our hearts. There is no room for us in the inn either. Here are some thoughts from Luther on the manger in Bethlehem.
“True it is that Christians live their lives here upon earth, eat and drink in this world, just as Christ, their King, also ate and shared in life here. But Christians do this as pilgrims and strangers, as guests in a lodging place, as Christ also did. In an inn the master of the house sees to it that there is food, drink, bread, meat…the guest is not in charge of that. He does not instruct the landlord how to run the house. He does not tell the manager how to go about buying food stuffs; rather, he asks the innkeeper whether there is bread and meat for him that he might eat, since he is weary from travel. So also, Christ has not come to earth in order to seize power from Caesar Augustus and teach him how to rule. But he uses the worldly realm and the manger, until he has fulfilled his mission for which he had been sent.”
For the born again person we still operate in this world. We have jobs, raise families, buy homes, and do all the normal things we have always done. The change is not obvious to the casual glance, but to those who take time to really look, everything has changed. Our hearts now belong to the heavenly King, we understand that the manger is more valuable than king’s thrones. After all, we are just passing through and there is no room for us in the inn.