The Irony of Christmas: The Bread of Life Put in a Feeding Trough
Ironically, the baby wrapped in cloths is laid on a manger. He is not laid on a royal, golden crib, as it would be fitting for the King of Kings, but on a feeding trough used to feed animals. Think about this for a minute. The One who created all things was indeed to become the slain Lamb of God who would give himself for the spiritual food of his people. Ironic, isn’t it?
The bread of heaven has come to feed us, and thus from His birth he is put on a feeding trough. During Holy Communion, we partake of the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal food which ‘came down out of heaven” because that is the only “Food” which “endures to eternal life.”
The “bread of this world” perishes. It’s is only for this world, like our physical bodies, which is why Jesus Himself said, “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word from the mouth of God.”
The One who is wrapped in His birth and in His death is also put on the place of feeding because He had also come to be the eternal food of repentant sinners.
Jesus was ‘wrapped in swaddling clothes’ so that He might wrap us in the ‘robes of His righteousness’ Isaiah talks about (Isa. 61:10).
In a room for the animals, in a humble feeding trough, what a crazy place to put the hope of the entire world. But that is where God puts Him, isn’t it? Would you have put Jesus there if He was your Son? Most of us wouldn’t.
Jesus, who is able to free people imprisoned by their bad decisions. Jesus, who is able to give humanity a renewed relationship with their creator God. Jesus, who is able to transform individual lives and whole communities for good. Jesus, who is able to break the power of death and offer the gift of eternal life.
Jesus, the King of Glory, the Son of God, might as well have been zipped up in a used backpack, because when His family gets to Bethlehem, this teensy tiny town, not big enough for a hotel, the guest lodging is full, and they have to sleep among the animals. And when Jesus is born, his momma puts him in a feeding trough.
That’s a crazy place to put him, isn’t it?
A crazy place to put the Son of God, a crazy place to put the hope of the entire world, if you ask me.
Why a Feeding Trough?
Do you ever think about why? Why the animal room? Why a feeding trough? God is God, and every part of the nativity story has been carefully orchestrated by him. Nothing is an accident. Nothing is impossible to organize for God. It’s not like God failed to make His hotel reservations on time. Jesus could have been born anywhere in the world. Why was it so important that there was no room in the inn? Why was it so important that he be born on a hay dust floor with the animals all around?
How about we flip it around? Let’s ask some “what ifs.” What if Jesus was born in a king’s palace? What would that mean for the world? He’d certainly have had safety and privilege and access to great powers. But how would I reach him? Me. A middle class suburban girl, or if I was a poor man? Would I have had to wait in line? Or stand outside the palace gates?
What if Jesus was born in a nice suburban family home? What would that have meant for the world? It’d feel great to know that Jesus was like me, but what would it mean to the homeless folk we feed downtown on a Tuesday nights? When God commits to coming to earth, would a suburban birth say he’s too good to be like one of them?
But here, among the animals, among their sweat and dung, no one could say “That little baby is out of my reach.” No one could say, “He’s too good for me.” No one could say, “He doesn’t understand my life.”
Isaiah 57 tells us that God dwells “with the contrite and lowly of spirit, in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” Isaiah teaches us that while humanity might spend all of its energy building very tall towers, God is the builder of a trench. When God had the chance to offer a gift of hope for the whole world, He put that hope where anyone in the world could reach Him.
This 2020 Christmas, don’t let the challenges we have all faced this year, pandemic, political, protests, financial, family or even emotional, keep you for reaching the manger of the One who left all to reach you where you are at, right here, right now; the unreachable Lord of glory has made Himself accessible to all who come to Him in trusting faith and a sincere willingness to turn from their ways and turn to His. So, reach out to Him for He is reaching out to you.