Away in a Manger

[Verse 1]
Away in a manger, no crib for His bed
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head
The stars in the bright sky looked down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay

[Verse 2]
The cattle are lowing, the poor Baby awakes
But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes
I love Thee, Lord Jesus! Look down from the night sky
And stay by my side till morning is nigh

[Verse 3]
Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me I pray
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care
And take us to Heaven to live with Thee there

This small carol is often believed to have been written by Martin Luther around 1483. I found there is no record of it written down until the 1800s in Pennsylvania. But whether or not it was written by Martin Luther it is a classic Christmas carol that many of us have heard or sang at one point or another.

There is a lot to be said about this Christmas Carol. Some people believe this song is not well written, others say it is not Biblically accurate, others believe it is theologically very wrong, and still others believe it is simply a nice Christmas lullaby.

This could be debated for hours, but if we remember that the Bible is the ONLY book or lyric that is perfect and 100% true; then we can look at a song like this and learn from it.

I believe there are two main things we can learn and glean from this song.

  1. The Humility of Jesus

The song begins with an understanding that Jesus was out of place. Here was the King of the Jews…and mankind with no “crib for His bed.”

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Luke 2:6-7

Because of the census there were many more people in the town of Bethlehem than normal. Because of this they were not able to find a normal place to stay and Jesus the King of the Universe was born in the only shelter they could find…a home for animals.

Humble beginnings was a strategic step in God coming to Earth. Jesus could have been born to anyone. But God chose Mary, Bethlehem, an animal feeding stand, the Jews, a time when His people where in captivity.

From the foundation of the world God knew the exact moment when He would step down from Heaven and become fully God and fully human in Jesus. Nothing surprises God.

When Mary and Joseph found out they had to travel to Bethlehem and couldn’t find a place to stay once they got there; God had planned it.

Understanding this gives us a proper perspective why Jesus was born in the humble place with humble people as He was.

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.

Hebrews 2:17

Jesus experienced the worst of the worst giving Him the ability to serve as a high priest who understands. He lived a life just like we do and often He experienced worse things than we do.

We as humans do not have any control over our birth, but Jesus being God understood that His birth was not just a birth. His birth fulfilled things that had been spoken before and His birth was a sign of God’s great love for mankind.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:5-11

Jesus Christ became nothing for us and giving His life on the cross; but it started at His birth. He was not special, His family was not special, His town was not special, even His bed wasn’t special.

Jesus’ birth is a symbol of the rest of His life on earth. Humility.

Even though He had equality with God, He did not believe it was “something to be used to his own advantage.”

As His life continued we find this trend continuing; we find in Mark Jesus tells the disciples when they were arguing about who should be the greatest…

42…“You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Mark 10:42-45

As humans we all have a desire to be served. We all struggle with the natural desire to be in charge and to tell everyone else what to do. This desire has been going on since the beginning and we as people have at times attempted to tell God what to do.

We believe, we know what is best and tell God what He should do. But God understands and knows what we do not.

The baby born in a manger sleeping on hay is not the best way to accomplish world wide rule. Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve.

Jesus came as the ruling king who takes away the sins of the world; but not how we believe it should be done.

If I were god and saw the great sin and evil in the world; I wouldn’t send Jesus to a manger to live a perfect life and die for people who don’t care. I would take away freewill! Take away the choice of evil and vanquish it and not give anyone the ability to choose evil.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have “peace on earth?”

But we are not God. His plan is not to limit us but to free us from ourselves! Jesus came to serve not to be served! When we come to Him expecting to be served we are sadly mistaken!

We often misunderstand humility and the acts of Jesus and believe He is here for our every desire!

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

John 13:2-17

Jesus washed the disciples feet. This humility is not because of the greatness or because we are entitled to Jesus serving us; but it is an example for us to follow for those around us.

Jesus said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”

Are we washing each others feet?

Jesus born in a manger was an example of the homeless, rejected, unwanted, depressed, unloved, sad, cold, hungry, and normal people of the world.

If you have ever felt any of those…don’t worry you are the kind of person Christ came for. Those who have experienced life and its highs and lows. If you are on the mountain top right now…Praise God! If you are sinking in the ocean right now…Praise God! God is here for you, but not as your foot washer. He is here for you as your Lord and Savior who is calling you to do something! Don’t hide on that mountain or give up in those waves.

2. Our Great Need for Christ!

Away in a Manger continues with this called for Jesus Christ to help us.

I love Thee, Lord Jesus! Look down from the night sky
And stay by my side till morning is nigh

Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me I pray
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care
And take us to Heaven to live with Thee there

We found that Jesus is not who we want He is God and He is who we need. We must not confuse the two. If He is simply our servant we can call upon He have missed His very nature…God.

We need Christ for life and salvation. Without Christ in our lives we will be nothing.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

I am nothing; Christ is everything!

In the song the writer is asking Christ to stay with the children, because it was believed children are very close to death while they sleep. Before accepting Christ we were dead. We need; just like the song says to profess our love and desire for Him to be in our lives in order to give that life.

We need Christ for salvation to heaven.

Back to Hebrews; Jesus humbled Himself in order to make a way to heaven and eternal life.

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.

Hebrews 2:17

Without His death on the cross as His greatest act of love through the action of humility we would not have hope of heaven. But because Jesus’ humble life ended with the cross we are able to be…”And take us to Heaven to live with Thee there.”

What to do now?

This little song helps us to see the humility of Christ and our great need for Him in our lives. But is that where we stop?

Absolutely not! We must follow the example of Christ when He was a servant for others and serve others. Not expecting to receive anything, but simply giving what we have.

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 4:7-11

We have all been given gifts. We are called to use them for His glory. When was the last time you served someone…

In your Home?

In your Community?

In your workplace?

In your church?

This should be a daily thing! But it is not; if it were churches would be growing…communities would be coming back to Christ…companies would be giving back to their employees and communities…and families would be stronger with less divorce and chaos.

Find a place to serve in your home, community, work, and church. If you need help finding a place talk to your pastor, husband/wife, supervisor, community leaders and you will find ways to wash others feet daily and see how revival starts in 2020!


God Bless!


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