In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (Luke 2:1-20, NRSV)
This story seems so second nature to us. We have heard of this census probably for however many years we have been alive. We have heard of the family that went from Nazareth to Bethlehem, and how a baby was born there that night in a manger because there was no room inside.
But do we get it?
This is a story about how God moved Heaven and Earth to set into motion the things that needed to happen for the prophecies to come true and for the Messiah to come into the world.
This isn’t simply a story of a young (unwed) women and her husband (well not really yet…) giving birth to their son. Who happens to be the son of God. This is the story of how God saved us all. Because the manger leads to Jesus in the temple at age 12 and on to His ministry here on Earth and to His death on the cross. You see if it wasn’t for the manger the cross would not have happened.
So Christmas while it is nice to celebrate His birth, we need to also remember His death. This is merely a step, a very well orchestrated step in the story of your salvation.
So thanks be to God the manger happened, so God could make a way for us all.
And remember it isn’t just about the manger, but it is also about the cross.