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The Unexpected Lessons of Your Nativity Scene

The Unexpected Lessons of Your Nativity Scene

Every Christmas, many of us put up a cute little manger scene somewhere in our house or yard.

Nativity scenes are a staple of holiday decorating, and we all know the story of Jesus’ birth, but with a closer look there are some massive lessons to be learned from how Jesus came into the world. The narrative of the nativity is so much more than a nice background for a Christmas card or a scene in a Christmas drama.

Here are just a few things that I think we can all learn from Jesus in the manger…

Jesus Isn’t Afraid To Enter Into Our Filth


We often imagine the manger scene as a clean, well-kept barn with golden-yellow hay. In reality, the environment Jesus was born into was most likely covered in the filth of animals and smeared with dirt. It’s quite possible that the air was too hot or too cold. It’s likely that the smell wasn’t pleasant. It’s probable that the environment that Jesus entered into was anything but clean.

To me, this says that Jesus isn’t afraid to enter into our filth. He isn’t intimidated by our unfavorable conditions. 

We don’t serve a God who tiptoes around uncleanness or is intimidated by the weakness in our humanity. Christ died for us when we were at our worst.

He loves us so intensely that He came in the flesh to walk among us and then did the unthinkable by sending His Spirit to live in us.

God Doesn’t Always Give Step-by-Step Instructions.

Nowhere in Scripture does it say that Mary and Joseph were ready for what happened. While they of course knew they were to give birth to Jesus, it doesn’t sound like they had all of the details. In no way does it seem that God gave them specific dates and times and instructions for how His will was to be done in the birth of Jesus.

That blows my mind.

Mary and Joseph were entrusted with the birth of the Son of God—the most important birth in history—yet it seemed that it all occurred without them being prepared for it any more so than any other couple on earth giving birth. 

At the time of Jesus’ birth, Mary and Joseph were traveling and away from home. If they had been given exact instructions of God’s plan, I doubt they would have put themselves in such a precarious place at the time of Jesus’ birth.

I think we can learn from this that God doesn’t always give step-by-step instructions for following His will for our life. But He is always there, through it all, as we lean on Him and follow the path we’ll later see that he laid out.

God’s Plan Doesn’t Always Look Like Our Plan

My wife and I are actually expecting now, and I can tell you for certain that my ideal plan for having a child doesn’t look like giving birth in an animal stall. In fact, I want a full team of doctors and nurses with an array of modern medical equipment at their fingertips.

I don’t know what Mary and Joseph’s ideal setting was, but if I had to guess, a manger with a feeding trough probably wasn’t at the top of their list.

God had a specific plan and a purpose, but He didn’t reveal it all to Mary and Joseph.

I think this is because if we buy into a plan before a purpose, we may fail before we even get started. If God had told Mary and Joseph the exact conditions they would be bringing their child into, they may have become overwhelmed by the adversity rather than trusting God.

God will do the impossible through us, but the impossible is often beyond what our eyes can see, our ears can hear and our minds can grasp. I firmly believe that if we pursue His purpose, the impossible will become possible and His plan will become our plan.

The manger was the birthplace of the greatest plan ever set into motion. It’s a plan that continues to this day and it’s a plan we have all been invited to participate in. It’s a plan of peace, hope and redemption—and it began in the most humble of places.

Hope entered into this fallen world in the form of sinless, perfect child. Amid all of our rushing, buying and traveling during this holiday season, let’s give our wonder and amazement to the true miracle of Christmas: the birth of Christ.

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