One of the things that most of us love about Christmas is the food. Next to Thanksgiving, Christmas is the second greatest “foodie” holiday. Holiday favorites will abound according to tradition and a lot of non-traditional food.
Today, though, I want to share a simple message with you about a simple feast. And it involves just three courses: Bread, Wine, and Lamb.
Luke 2:12-16 (ESV) 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.
There are many messages that focus on no room at the inn. There are others who focus on the wise men and their gifts. Still others on the star that shone in the darkness to guide the path to the messiah. And, finally, “peace on earth, good will toward men.” All of these messages are wonderful but, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, I chose to focus on the manger.
The manger, very simply, is a feeding trough. It is where the farm animals went to receive their nourishment. A manger is not very clean and it is certainly not very elegant. Now, I submit to you that this is an example of God’s will being done in spite of God’s will not being done.
Every parent here — imagine you’re wealthy beyond imagination and it’s time for your first child to be born. Surely you’d want everything to be absolutely correct, right? The best hospitals. The best doctors. The cleanest environment. You would do everything to make that possible. But things don’t line up and your baby is born in a stable. Now, this doesn’t diminish the value of the child and it doesn’t limit what you want to do for the child or your expectations for the child. In fact, this event would become part of your family folklore — to be reviewed once the child accomplishes the greatness of your expectations.
Ima let you chew on that…
Imagine the surprise of the animals, seeing their creator in their feeding trough! This had to be a little confusing and unsettling. For Mary and Joseph — and the others in attendance — they were looking at the First and Greatest Christmas meal.
Jesus said He is the Bread of life. That those who eat His flesh would never be hungry. Like the Passover bread, He is unleavened — that means He is not puffed up with religion and legalism. He is pure and requires no additives. But just like God gave the Israelites bread from heaven and they didn’t recognize it, the people of Jesus’ day didn’t recognize Him, either. And the funny thing is that people don’t recognize him, today.
I think it’s fitting that Jesus’ first miracle was to turn water into wine. First of all, He was demonstrating that the party — the wedding feast — doesn’t end until He says it does. Jesus said He is the Living Water — that if we drink of Him, we’d never thirst. But He also is the New Wine of the New Covenant and, like the water He turned into wine, He is the Best God saved for Last! Also, wine symbolizes blood in the eucharist — so He turns His Living Water to live-giving blood – because the life of flesh is in the blood. It is also awesome that He has given us His Holy Spirit, so we can stay drunk on Him and not the intoxicants of the world!
Finally, Jesus is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Listen, I love lamb almost as much as I love bacon! Keeping it real, I can’t read the passover story without getting hungry.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch…
Jesus is the unblemished lamb that was provided as the atoning, redemptive sacrifice for us. He is the price Jesus called Himself the door — that we would be able to enjoy freedom in Him. And like in the passover story, as the blood of the lamb was applied to the doorposts and lintels, Jesus’ Blood was applied to the Cross — so that destruction would be kept from us, not just for a night, but for eternity!
Jesus is calling — inviting us to the feast. It’s a table prepared for all and He’s depending on us to repeat the invitation. And the awesome thing is that it is a no-cost, all-you-can-eat buffet that even a gourmet can appreciate!
The first Christmas was more than a heralding, it was the beginning of the never-ending wedding feast. Everything we need pertaining to life and godliness was wrapped up in swaddling clothing and presented in a feeding trough so that we’d never hunger or thirst, again.
The Greatest Gift is the Greatest Feast.
© 2017 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)