Away in a Manger
“This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Luke 2:12 (NIV)
It seems to me that whoever wrote “Away in a Manager,” wrote it before they had children of their own. One verse reads:
The cattle are lowing [mooing]
The poor Baby wakes
But little Lord Jesus
No crying He makes
Hold on a minute, ‘No crying He makes’? Real new born babies cry. In fact, they yell their heads off. It’s a healthy sign. If we are to understand what happened in Bethlehem, we must believe that when the baby wakes there is a cry from the manger, because that is what Christmas means at its very core.
Think of the story of Superman. The baby born on the disintegrating planet Krypton is sent by his parents in a space capsule to earth. The boy grows up to be Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet, and no one can tell that Kent is Superman—until he goes into a phone box. He looks like a human, but don’t be fooled.
What happened in Bethlehem was not pretend—God actually became human. He didn’t lose any of his divinity, but he took on humanity. He wasn’t an alien pretending to be human. The reason is explained in two key passages: “[Mary] will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). And in Hebrews 2:17, “For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.”
This was no play-acting. The divine Son of God was no hologram or apparition. He became flesh (John 1:14). In the early church there were heretics who claimed that Jesus just pretended to be human. After all, it was argued, Spirit (classified as good) could never mix with flesh (classed as bad). The Apostle John addressed that issue head on in 1 John 4:2, when he said, “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.”
Now if ‘no crying he makes’ is true, then Jesus is not really human, but only pretending. And if he is only pretending to be human then, ultimately, we have no Saviour. So I for one, am glad there was a cry from the manager, for it helps me to believe that the only-begotten Son of God, very God of very God, came down from heaven and for our salvation was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
Father, thank you for sending your Son to save us from our sins, made possible because he is fully God and fully man.
Study by Barry Robinson
Grace Communion International Central London
Mahatma Gandhi Hall
41 Fitzroy Square
Local Congregational Contact: