“The Songs of Christmas”
(Away in a Manger)
- Our perspective in the western world is distorted. Not only this time of year but any Christian celebration all year long is twisted, deceiving, and in some cases a mockery of our Lord.
- Listening to the song “Away in a manger” is all quite seemingly innocent and appealing with sympathetic empathy towards Jesus.
- The world’s song would have you think…
- Jesus was a cute little baby
- No place to lay his head
- He is sleeping in the manger and is not awakened by the cattle lowing
- The stars are looking down at Jesus as if they can see Him
- We need to ask Jesus to love us and be near us forever
- In our asking Jesus to bless all the dear children in His tender care, he will do it.
- And also by our asking, He will take us to heaven to live with Him there.
- Looking at the “manger scene” itself, it is nothing as the world portrays it to be. Most of us who attend church regularly have learned that the manger is not a wooden shanty with a wooden rickety hay stand with hay for Jesus to be laid on with Mary, Joseph, a cow and few sheep, the shepherds, 3 three wise men, and the little drummer boy present.
- Nothing could be further from the truth than that.
- The world also portrays angels as to having wings while nowhere in God’s word does it say that, or imply that. If God wants something to fly it doesn’t need wings. Jesus left this world to go to Abraham’s bosom (Paradise) to retrieve the O.T. saints and take them to heaven and He had no wings. Jesus came and went several times to heaven and earth to visit His people and His disciples with never one mention of Him flapping His wings. He didn’t need wings to fly.
- The angel Gabriel and Michael the Archangel was never given wings in the Bible.
- According to Isaiah 53:2 when describing the Messiah that was to come (Jesus Christ), Isaiah said “he hath no form nor comeliness;” meaning that he was not a very good looking child with a face or body that women would desire.
- The world tells their children that there is a Santa Clause (a lie, and a myth from the pits of hell) who brings gifts to them on the condition of their behavior. But, they fail to tell them of God who gave the greatest gift (Jesus Christ) of all because of His unconditional love for them.
- The world’s perspective of God, His Son, and His plan is completely distorted.
I. Away in a Manger
A) No crib for a bed
- I don’t know if you took time to look it up, but the fact is that the word “manger” is only found 3 times in the New Testament, and nowhere in the Old Testament.
- The word “manger” is only found in one book. The doctor by profession… Luke. (Luke 2:7, 12, 16)
- If you look in Webster’s New World Dictionary by the description of the word “manger” you will find its meaning to be … a box or trough to hold hay, etc. for horses or cattle to eat.
- Strong’s Concordance/dictionary defines “manger”… from pateomai (to eat); a crib (for fodder); manger, stall.
- According to Barnes Notes on the New Testament, The word “manger (phatnē, in the Greek)” is the word to describe a “lean to” or basic shelter that many people built on the outskirts of town for travelers (which were many) to house themselves and or their animals from the weather for an overnight stay. It would be like our roadside parks or rest areas today that lay alongside the highways. These “mangers” were very common.
- To me, this sheds a lot of light on the reasons for Mary and Joseph to stay there (at the manger) for the night.
- In town (Bethlehem) it was to hectic and chaotic as everyone was there paying taxes and taking care of personal and business matters.
- Joseph wanted a private room for His wife and baby to enjoy as opposed to noise of drunkards hollering, music playing, and etc.
- Joseph may have chosen the stable to house the donkey and to keep watch over their only source of travel and packing of necessities.
- To rent a room in the inn (hotel) was not even an option. It was a known fact at that time that all the rooms would be taken during this busy business time of year.
- A “manger” was made of rock or sun dried bricks not wood. Wood in this climate is much too hot. Stones or rocks provide cool atmosphere and surroundings for a weary traveler. The only wood on a manger would be that of the roof timbers.
B) No crib for a bed
- The word “crib” is ʾēbûs in the Hebrew language. It means the same as manger.
- The word “crib” is found 3 times in the O.T. and nowhere in the N.T. (Job 39:9, Proverbs 14:4, Isaiah 1:3)
- I believe that this term in the song “no crib for a bed” is meant to say that he really had no place to call home.
- If that is true of the song’s meaning then it is also true of our Savior that He was not of this world and His home is definitely not earth.
- Like us and the song I remember singing the church song…“This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through. My treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckoned me from heavens open door and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”
- For us as Gentiles, it is because of Jesus Christ’s death burial and resurrection we have a home in heaven and a permanent crib for our bed.
C) The little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head
- This line in the song is nothing more than the song writer’s feelings on paper being expressed as to his personal thoughts of Jesus. Maybe that being “Jesus is the sweetest name I know, and He’s just the same, as His lovely name.”
II. The Stars In the Sky
A) Looked down where he lay
- This is a wonderful line in the song that reminds us of His Kingship in that all of nature bows at the mention of His name.
- The stars looking down as to illuminate the creator.
- We believe in the Trinity and the verse in John 1:1 where it tells us that “In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word (Jesus) was with God and the Word (Jesus) was God.”
- That being said, upon creations account is told to us in Genesis 1:16…And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
- Jesus being God made the stars that shown down on Him in the manger and then His Father made a special star that shone above the stable to mark the location for the shepherds.
- David talks of His authority in naming and numbering the stars in Psalm 147:4…He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their 5) Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.
- The stars in the sky looked down where He lay. The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.
III. Be Near Me Lord Jesus
A) Draw me nearer, nearer
- This part of the song reminds me of another hymn… “Draw me nearer, nearer precious Lord to the Cross where thou hast died.”
- To be more near to our Lord should be the desire of every child of God.
- The only way to be near Him is to be Holy as He is Holy, to be obedient to Him and His laws, to continually seek His wisdom and grace.
- “Be near me Lord Jesus” I believe is the writer of this song asking the Lord to never leave his side.
- When we as children of God stray from His holiness and His commands we have a tenancy to think that he has forsaken us, left our side. Sin has a way of leaving guilt that Satan uses to destroy God’s people and their joy.
- Jesus restores unto us the joy of our salvation if all we do is ask. Does not Jesus tell us in His word…“Whatsoever ye ask in my name I will give it you.”
B) And love me I Pray
- The song goes like this… “Be near me Lord Jesus I ask thee to stay, close by me forever and love me I pray.”
- In my opinion, I believe this is probably my least favorite lines in the song as it really shows me the lack of faith on the writer’s part. Why do I think that?
- The words “Be near me Lord Jesus I ask thee to stay” tells me that Jesus will leave if we don’t ask Him to stay. Why say that? I mean, Jesus has told us in Hebrews 13:5…Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
- The words “close by me forever and love me I pray.” Again where is his faith at? Jesus has promised to love us unconditionally. Has not this writer of the song “Away in a manger” not read in John 14:21…He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
- This is the wonderful thing about our Saviour Jesus Christ.
- Jesus also said in John 15:9…As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. Jesus asked us here to continue in His love right? Jesus would not ask us to do something that He is not willing to do himself right? RIGHT!
IV. Bless All the Dear Children
A) In thy tender care
- The last words of the song are… “Bless all the dear children in thy tender care and take us to heaven to live with thee there.”
- The word “bless” means to make happy. Children for the most part are happy. God has made them happy due to their innocence up to the age where they are able to understand God.
- I don’t believe that we are stupid enough to think that just by us asking for God to take us to heaven, He will do that. God has a Law, God has standards, and He has his Word. He demands holiness that can only be received through a sacrifice of a lamb and The Lamb, Jesus Christ.