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The fearsome baby in a manger

Away in a Manger

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head.
The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus no, crying he makes…

Beloved and Fearsome

The story of a baby in a manger is beloved the world over. Children enact it every year as part of a traditional Christmas service. It is comfortable and easy to relate to.

  • a helpless tiny little baby
  • a slightly scared but bursting with love mom
  • an awestruck dad
  • stars twinkling in the heavens…

No…the manger story is not a fearful one

…like death on a cross, a body ripped open with brutal metal tipped whips, spikes hammered through hands and feet, blood from a crown of sharp thorns blindingly dripping into eyes…

…like a love so powerful that it chose to be humbled to this beaten and broken state, hanging humiliatingly naked until slow suffocation would bring death on.

…like the terrifying loneliness when friends have deserted and betrayed, when beloved have rejected, when mobs have shouted, “Death!” and “Crucify him!”

…like the taunts of mockers who don’t realize that this man-God loves them enough to stay on this cross – this man whose last words would be words of intercession, “Father, forgive them…”

…like One clothed in white, eyes like flames of fire, robes dipped in blood, a sharp double edged sword coming from his mouth who will return as Redeemer, Judge, and King.

No…the Christmas story is “Precious Moments” kind of beautiful, full of peace and joy and goodwill to mankind…

For a moment.

For a moment, we rest in amazement and wonder and it is a soothing balm to our souls. And we need to receive it and treasure it because we know that precious moments are few and far between and then trouble must come.

And it does.

Warned in a dream, Joseph must run. He must flee to Egypt with this young wife and this child that God has entrusted him to father. He leaves in his wake a countryside of mothers, weeping and wailing over their lost babies who have been murdered by a jealous tyrant of a ruler – an arrogant, foolish ruler who imagines that he can actually put God to death!

Thus, I consider this…

I need the tender wonder of Christmas, but I also need this Advent reflection because I need the whole story – not just the Christmas story.

If I don’t acknowledge the whole story how can I properly worship and adore Him?

If I let sentimentality guide me, will I really hear glad tidings of joy?

He is more than a baby in a manger. He is Savior and he loves me enough to suffer for me. He is King – almighty, holy, eternal, righteous, and awesome in power. He is worthy to be worshiped and adored – not just as a baby and for a season – but with the whole of my life and my being.

The world will embrace a baby – but will it embrace a king?

In Light of This

O come let us adore him

O come let us adore him

O come let us adore him

Christ the Lord


*causing awe or respect