A Manger Scene Painting
Read: Luke 2:6-7
The present Christmas festivities demand some extra cash than what we normally have. It seems that the joy of Christmas depends on how much money people hold in their hands. However, we cannot blame them. Life has been difficult the past years. It is so ironical that the first Christmas is a picture of scarcity: “no crib for a bed”.
Jesus was born in a stable -a place for feeding cattle- because there was no room in the inn. His parents laid him in a manger, instead of a cradle. The word, which we render swaddling clothes, came from a word that signifies to rend, or tear, which meant that his very swaddles were ragged and torn. Matthew Henry commented, “His being born in a stable and laid in a manger was an instance of, [1.] the poverty of his parents, had they been rich, the innkeepers would have easily made a room ready for them; but being poor, they must shift as they could. [2.] The corruption and degeneracy of manners in that age; that a woman in such condition was treated heartlessly. If there had been any common humanity among them, they would not have turned a woman in a delicate condition into a stable”.
(Source: Matthew Henry commentary on Luke 2:1-20 c/o http://www.blueletterbible.com)
However, if that was the condition and Jesus the ruler of the kingdom was in that condition, does it mean that those who belong to the kingdom should be in the same condition? No! Of course not!
Paul said in 2 Corinthians 8:9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might be rich.” Those who belong to the kingdom are rich! Can you say this? “I am rich!” “We are rich!” We can confidently say, “I am rich” because Jesus is our King and we belong to His kingdom! In Psalm 37:25, David said, “I have been young, and now am old, yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his offspring begging bread.” That is a testimony of no less King David himself. God does not forsake His people. They receive grace at the time of need. In the middle of poverty, the people of God will thrive.
Church-based Christian generosity was Paul’s way of addressing the issue of poverty in the first century church in second epistle to the Corinthians. Paul urged the Corinthian believers to show their love for the brethren. He was not asking them for what they do not have but he encouraged them to be generous with what they have. In that way, we will have a sense of equality just like in the Mosaic principle- “those who had gathered much had nothing over, and those who had gathered little had no lack.” That is the kingdom of God in action.
The problem sometimes, kindness is abused. However, that should not hamper the people of God from showing their love for the brethren.
There was a story (I just don’t have the means to verify its accuracy) about a couple who went into a city for a conference. Since there were many delegates, accommodation in hotels were full. The poor couple had nowhere to stay. They had to go to a small and old hotel. They knocked at the door. The hotel manager let them in. He told the couple “the hotel is full, and we do not have any room for you. But, if it is Ok with you, I offer my personal room so you can have a place to stay for the night.” The couple was grateful. Therefore, the manager fixed his room for the couple. A few months afterwards, the manager received a letter from the couple offering him a better job in New York City. He agreed. When he arrived in New York, the couple welcomed him in Waldorf Astoria Hotel. They told him, “This is our hotel and we want you to manage it.”
In Matthew 25:40, the King has said, “Verily I say unto you, since you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.” Whenever we show kindness, we are serving the King. Then we will not be like the innkeepers in Bethlehem who has driven the Lord away because there has been no room for love in their hearts.
TO BE CONTINUED
Image from: www.seekingGod.com