God created man with the intention that man should have a relationship with Him. But Adam and Eve failed and sin came between the creature and the Creator. Sin sent man running from the presence of a Holy and Loving God. Judgment followed. Death came into the picture; man was driven from the Garden of Eden. But man needed a“way.”
As a result of sin, the intimate relationship between man and God was broken. Still, God intended to be with man. This desire on the part of God moved God, by grace, to provide a means through the blood of lambs, rams, bullocks, and goats to allow the substitutionary death of the innocent to atone, or cover, the sin of man. There remained, however, a great gulf between God and man. Still, man needed a“way.”
Through the ages, “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). But God had a plan. God had the answer to humanity’s helplessness before we even knew we were helpless. God had already arranged to send the lifeboat before we even knew we were drowning. For when humanity had no “way,” God made a “way” (Rev. 13:8). In fact, this Christmas I want to point your attention to the fact that God had a “way” in a manger.
The Word says, “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7). As Joseph and Mary look upon the baby in the manger they are the first to see what the prophet had longed to see, God descending to come to where we are (Matthew 1:22-24). But now, in a manger, for the first time since the Garden of Eden, there is a “way”—a “way” in a manger!
A “way” for man to know God intimately. A “way” for man to pass beyond the veil. A “way” for man to go beyond the ritual and know the relationship God desires to have with us. There is a “way” to get close enough to hear the voice of God. There is a “way” for man to get close enough to feel the hand of God. There is a “way” for man to come to God and have the Spirit of God fall like fire and fill us with His power! There is a “way” in a manger(John 14:6). There is no other “way.” It’s not by works. It’s not by riches. It’s not by knowledge. It’s not by Joseph Smith. It’s not by Charles Taze Russell. It’s not by Buddha. It’s not by Mohammed. There is only one “way” and that “Way” is Jesus. By Him we come boldly to the throne of grace, by Him we are in the fold, we are His sheep and He is our Shepherd. There is a “Way” in a manger!
Some will argue, “Pastor Chris, that was then and this is now. The baby is not in the manger any longer. The angels haven’t been singing over my fields. The star hasn’t been shining over my home. Not only are the cattle not lowing, I can’t even afford a hamburger, so don’t go telling me about a “way” in a manger because I need help today!” Well, you’re right. The baby isn’t in the manger any longer. He grew up, became a man, walked upon the earth, healed the sick, made the lame to walk, cleansed the lepers, opened blinded eyes, made the deaf to hear and the dumb to talk. He raised the dead! Then the “Way” went to a cross and nailed our sins to a tree. The “Way” isn’t in the manger anymore, the “Way” isn’t on the cross, the “Way” isn’t in the tomb, the “Way” is at the right hand of the Father where He ever lives to make intercession for the saints. The “Way” is holding the door open and giving us access to the throne of grace. There is a “way,” there’s a “way” to live more abundantly. There’s a “way” to healing power. There’s a “way” to peace and joy and rest. There is a “way!”
Are you having trouble believing that God would leave Heaven to come to earth for us? I heard the story about a woman and her children starting off to church one Christmas Eve, but her husband would not go. He was not a Christian, and he did not understand the incarnation—all that stuff about God becoming a man. After his family drove away, the snow began to fall. As he read the newspaper, he heard something hitting the window, it was a flock of birds caught in the storm and seeking shelter. He remembered his barn and, thinking it would be a warm refuge from the snow, he went outside and opened the doors. The birds would not fly into the barn, so he put out breadcrumbs to lure them, then he tried shooing them in, but to no avail. “If I were only a bird for a few seconds,” he said, “I could lead them to safety.” At that moment the church bells rang. He sank to his knees in the snow and said, “Now, God, I know why you had to become a man.”
This Christmas season I encourage you to look anew upon the Nativity and know that God has provided for you a “way” through His precious gift, Jesus Christ.