It’s an interesting assortment of people and creatures. The bride and groom stand gazing into one another’s eyes, although they are beside the cradle of the Son of God. I wonder how often I miss the opportunity to kneel at Jesus’ feet because I’m too absorbed with my own agenda, and don’t even notice his presence. The medieval soldier bears a defiant expression, his eyes fixed on something distant. He, too, misses the opportunity to kneel before this tiny babe, God’s miraculous Christmas Gift. He reminds me that often my focus is distant and detached, while God’s miracles happen all around me.
The animals have a better focus on the unique manger scene than anyone else in the stable except Mary. They look toward the Christ Child, but perhaps they simply wonder at this unusual event – a human baby sleeping on their food. Do they wonder where their next meal will come from? Ah, but I know something they do not. These animals gaze on the Bread of Life.
Then there is Mary. Mary, favored of God. Mary, blessed to bear God’s Son. She knew his birth was miraculous. The angel talked to her and told her things these others do not yet know. She looks at her child with the love of a mother for her newborn baby and the knowledge that this child has come from God in a special way. She cannot know in this moment the amazing things that God will do through Jesus. Mary smiles into the face of her Savior.
Finally, and most important, there is Jesus. Jesus, God’s Unique Son, who set aside glory and majesty for our sakes. Jesus who will go to the cross on our behalf and shed his blood to wash us sin clean in the red flow. Jesus invites each one of us to kneel before his manger and his cross. “I have come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly,” he said.
I like this manger scene. It reminds me that we are each invited to worship the Messiah. God held us in his heart when he came to earth. I am challenged to keep my eyes focused on Jesus, the Living Word of God.
Happy Birthday, Jesus!