The Rejected and Redeeming Stone of Christmas
“Local shepherds find a newborn baby in a dirty stone feeding trough and you’ll never believe what happened next.”
While modern-day clickbait headlines can be ridiculous and downright misleading, we know for sure that many did not believe and still don’t. To some, the story of Christ is just a good story to digest, talk about with family, be inspired about, but yet not believe the truths of ”what happened next.”
First, I want to share something I just learned as well. Contrary to modern stories, many of the ancient mangers (animal feeding troughs) were made of stone, chiseled out as this one pictured above. That blew my mind from all the childhood stories I had ever read. They had been made of stone long before, sturdy, useable, and why replace the perfectly good stone manger? Not to mention, it's probably hard to move those things!
Parents out there, can you imagine that? Laying your baby inside one of these as you tend to the after-birth needs of the mother. Would you judge a parent who did this, too, let alone one who still uses a pacifier or not, uses baby formula or not, cloth diapers or not? Of course, I digress because it’s not about methods. It’s about our souls.
Imagine, God Himself CHOSE to come down as a man. He CHOSE a humble beginning and life which is a far cry from any of the earthly dreams and goals of success and power in our lives that we have ever had. He chose to feel like us, experience pain like us, be in relationships like us, experience all the mess of outrageous religious legalists, and so much more.
His life was so anti-culture, people took notice. The expectations of a grand and glorious ruler of the earth yet to be born and laid in a place of animals only later to ride on a donkey into Jerusalem? I mean, it says WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, MIGHTY GOD, PRINCE OF PEACE…some people still didn’t get it.
He chose to be born, suffer, and die as a blood offering for us - once and for all.
Read what it says in Isaiah 28:15-17 (emphasis, mine)
“Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death,
and with Sheol we have an agreement,
when the overwhelming whip passes through
it will not come to us,
for we have made lies our refuge,
and in falsehood we have taken shelter”;
therefore thus says the Lord God,
“Behold, I am the one who has laid[d] as a foundation in Zion,
a stone, a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation:
‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’
And I will make justice the line,
and righteousness the plumb line;
and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and waters will overwhelm the shelter.”
The people of Jerusalem had taken shelter in falsehood and refuge in lies. They believed in the foreign rulers in their time and lost their love and trust in God. The first of the ten commandments had been broken in their hearts before they could even get down to the rest of them. The promises in Isaiah seemed distant and untrue to them. They trusted the words and refuge in their little world and did not consider the promises and truth of the Lord. They didn’t see it in the way they COULD see the world around them. They didn’t have faith in the unseen (Heb. 11)
Sound familiar to today?
Yet we now know through the testimony of four different authors the unfolding of the entire story after what Isaiah wrote many years before.
Jesus came into the world, fulfilling all of Scripture, and was laid inside a dirty feeding stone to become the cornerstone, the sure foundation, the plumb line for righteousness and life for the entirety of humanity for those who believe with a faith without sight. Scripture doesn’t match by coincidence…it was put together on purpose because God is all-powerful.
We have another prophecy to believe more than words of the world: He is coming again and He alone is the way, the truth, and the life. He can wipe your tears away, make His desires yours, redeem anything in your past, and make all things new! Amen!
This Christmas when you hear the word manger, whether you think of wood or stone, sing praises of worship to Immanuel. God with us to save our souls. Born into this world and laid in the dirty stone trough yet so worthy to be praised. Lived in this world as a humble servant to His Father, as a plumb line of righteousness to us all. Conquered death by rising again through the power of the Holy Spirit, as perfect justice for evil.
For to us, a child is born, to us, a son is given and all the falsehoods of the world and lies all around earth fade away forever at the power of His name. Indeed He is our Wonderful Counselor and Mighty God and Prince of Peace and Everlasting Father! Amen.