We have in our minds a very romantic view of the nativity. A little shed like structure with a light shining down on it with a single narrow beam. Joseph and Mary are there, looking pensively at the manger. It is full to overflowing with clean straw. In the background a cow is resting quietly, and a lamb is nearby, it’s pure white fleece gleaming from the star’s bright beam. And then, there’s Jesus. The infant clean and swaddled in a white cloth. The scene is perfect in every way and it creates a warmth in the soul to ponder it.

I have my doubts about the reality of that romantic view.

Jesus came to the ugliness of life. He humbled Himself to take on our form and to come into the lowest of places – and by that, I mean our hearts.

No, the stable was an ugly place. Rough and unsophisticated, the smell was a powerful stench of manure and unwashed animals. But He came to save us in our filth, not impress us with His cleanliness. Luke 2:8-20 tells us:

Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord,
was born for you in the city of David.
This will be the sign for you:
You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth
and lying in a feeding trough.


It was surely ironic for the shepherds. They were used to the trappings of a stable. But that’s not where kings are born. Kings are born in the finest of palaces. But shepherds weren’t welcome there. In order for the shepherds to be welcome, He would have to be born in the lowly places. And they were invited…

Imagine how they felt? They probably looked behind them and asked, “Are talking to us?” But the angels were talking to them.

When the angels had left them and returned to heaven,
the shepherds said to one another,
“Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened,
which the Lord has made known to us.”
They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and
the baby who was lying in the feeding trough.
After seeing this, they reported the message they were told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

Imagine! Lowly shepherds gathering in a lowly stable to see God’s Son brought into the world. It had to be surreal. And yet, here they were.

And here we are – celebrating the birth of Christ into our world. Enter into the stable for a moment. Smell the smells as you kneel before the manger. You don’t deserve to be there. You know it. And yet you are invited…

What is your response?

But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard, just as they had been told. 

Adoration! It just overflowed from the heart of the shepherds. That God would invite them into what He was doing – and to make it personal.

Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord,
was born for you in the city of David.

He was born for you. He came for you. Let your adoration flow out from a grateful heart. Glorify God. Praise Him. And offer Him the one thing He wants for His birthday – your heart.

Matt Ayars

President of Wesley Biblical Seminary

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