The Wonder of the Babe in the Manger

Luke 2:8-14

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, 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, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The shepherds knew with certainty that this was a work of God.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Had not the angel given them this direction, they would never have thought to have looked for, and found Him in such a place: and moreover, it might have been a stumbling to them, and an objection with them against His being Christ, the Lord, had they not been told beforehand where He was; but by this means this objection was prevented, and this stumbling block was removed out of the way, and they were prepared to see Him, embrace, and believe in Him, in this mean condition.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): By being in a manger He was declared to be the king of the poor. They, doubtless, were at once able to recognize His relationship to them, from the position in which they found Him. I believe it excited feelings of the tenderest brotherly kindness in the minds of the shepherds, when the angel said—“This shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the child wrapped in swaddling-clothes and lying in a manger.” In the eyes of the poor, imperial robes excite no affection, a man in their own garb attracts their confidence. With what pertinacity will workingmen cleave to a leader of their own order, believing in him because he knows their toils, sympathizes in their sorrows, and feels an interest in all their concerns…

I think I hear the shepherds comment on the manger-birth, “Ah!” said one to his fellow, “then he will not be like Herod the tyrant; he will remember the manger and feel for the poor; poor helpless infant, I feel a love for him even now, what miserable accommodation this cold world yields its Saviour; it is not a Caesar that is born to-day; he will never trample down our fields with his armies, or slaughter our flocks for his courtiers, he will be the poor man’s friend, the people’s monarch; according to the words of our shepherd-king, he shall judge the poor of the people; he shall save the children of the needy.’ Surely the shepherds, and such as they—the poor of the earth, perceived at once that here was the plebeian king; noble in descent, but still as the Lord hath called Him, “one chosen out of the people,” Psalm 89:19

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): How unlikely would it seem to a merely human judgement, that the Saviour of sinners, the promised Messiah―the Lord of all―should be a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger. Yet thus it was―thus He emptied Himself―and thus it was foretold of Him, that He should be despised for the poverty of His appearance.

C. H. SPURGEON: I think it was intended thus to show forth His humiliation. He came, according to prophecy, to be “despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;” He was to be “without form or comeliness,” “a root out of a dry ground,” Isaiah 53:2,3. Would it have been fitting that the man who was to die naked on the cross should be robed in purple at His birth? Would it not have been inappropriate that the Redeemer who was to be buried in a borrowed tomb should be born anywhere but in the humblest shed, and housed anywhere but in the most ignoble manner?

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): When we saw Him wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, we were tempted to say, “Surely this cannot be the Son of God.” But see His birth attended, as it is here, with a choir of angels, and we shall say, “Surely it can be no other than the Son of God, concerning whom it was said, when He was “brought into the world, Let all the angels of God worship him,” Hebrews 1:6.

RICHARD SIBBES (1577-1635): You see here, although Christ lay in the humble manger, yet nothwithstanding, there were some circumstances, that showed the greatness of His person, that He was no ordinary person; He lay in the manger indeed, but the wise men came and adored Him; and here is a host of angels that praise Him.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): For unto us a child is born,” Isaiah 7:14. This was “good tidings of great joy to all people,” Luke 2:10. Angels first brought it, and were glad of such an errand. Still they pry into this mystery and can never sufficiently wonder to see that the great God [should be] a little child; that He who ruleth the stars should be sucking at the breast; that the eternal Word should not be able to speak a word.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Nevertheless, in the manger He was “Christ the Lord,” Luke 2:11!

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): That babe, lying in the manger―a helpless babe, that can’t move, has to be carried, has to be attended to, there He is lying in a manger. What is this? Well, you see, this how the apostle Paul describes it―look at that babe, and this is what he says: “All the fullness of the Godhead dwelleth in Him bodily,” Colossians 2:9―it’s all there! In that one little babe! All the fullness of the Godhead, all the glorious purposes of God, they’re all there in that helpless little babe in the manger.

AUGUSTINE (354-430): Filling the world He lies in a manger!

C. H. SPURGEON: Never let us for a moment hesitate as to the Godhead of our Lord Jesus Christ, for His Deity is a fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith. It may be we shall never fully understand how God and man could unite in one person, for who can by searching find out God? These great mysteries of godliness, these “deep things of God,” are beyond our measurement. Our little skiff might be lost if we ventured so far out upon this vast, this infinite ocean, as to lose sight of the shore of plainly revealed truth. But let it remain as a matter of faith that Jesus Christ, even He who lay in Bethlehem’s manger and was carried in a woman’s arms, and lived a suffering life and died on a malefactor’s cross, was, nevertheless, “God over all, blessed forever, upholding all things by the word of His power,” Romans 9:5; Hebrews 1:3.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The Babe of Bethlehem, and all the Godhead! it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell―it’s all in Him―the babe lying in the manger, but He is the Saviour of the world, and He will reign from pole to pole, and His people, now despised and insignificant, shall reign with Him, and rejoice with Him, and in His holy presence, forever and forever.


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