I was blessed to spend a little time in the barn this morning doing the feedings. Come Christmas time, I am always reminded of the manner in which our Savior entered the world. So often, we forget to even consider the birth of Jesus this time of year. In our best moments, we think about the baby wrapped up in swaddling clothes lying in a manger, but as I look at the nativity sets all around, I think that we have missed something of the reality of what Christ came into.
As I hurried my way through the barn this morning, hundreds of noisy ewes bellowed at me in their greedy quest to fill their stomachs. They jostled and pushed their way through the straw and manure to find a place at the feed bunk. I’ve always been quite happy with our feed bunks as far as feeding sheep goes, but Christmas morning the feed bunks take on a new appearance. They look dirtier and dustier, the bottoms are caked with old bits of feed and manure and dozens of drooly sheep mouths plunge into the barley that I’m busy pouring.
I stopped to think about the feed bunk. You see, when I ask my kids about the Christmas story I always ask them where the baby Jesus was laid. They usually answer, “The manger.” To which I quickly respond, “But, what is a manger?” Now, even a lot of farm kids might have a hard time answering this. Manger is a bit of an out of date word. My kids have learned the right answer though, “A manger is a feed bunk!”
This is a stark truth when you are nose to nose with a two hundred pound panting drooling old ewe looking into her feed trough. THIS is it! This is where the newborn baby Jesus was laid those many years ago. This was his bassinet.
A fresh understanding of what it means that the Creator of the Universe stepped down into the form of a helpless baby to be born like any one of us. The perfect God surrounded by the filth of a creation so utterly ruined by the sin of each one of us. One has to ask the question why? Why would he do that? It’s simple really. It’s because he loves you! It was all part of his masterful plan to redeem a world lost and without hope. His plan to take our sin upon himself that each of us might have the opportunity to trust him and be saved from the consequences of our own sin! What amazing love, what amazing grace! And it started here, in a feed bunk.