Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Where Was that Manger?

I think this month in Children's Church, I will teach from sections of our Christmas play.  In this play, Santa writes to the kids hoping that they'll understand that Christmas is about Jesus and not about Santa and toys.  The first letter, Santa talks about Luke 2:1-7.

I read this passage again, and I recalled the article by Answers in Genesis about the inn.  The following will be my notes that hopefully will be a more interesting lesson on Sunday.

In those 7 verses, where does it mention Jesus being born in a stable?  Okay, what does it show Jesus being born in?  What was an inn like in Jewish culture?  Did it mean the same thing that it does today?

1. Jesus is born in history.
What words from the first 3 verses show this?  Caesar Augustus, Quirinius, their decree to register all the Roman empire in their home towns.
At this time in history, Caesar had told all the people to go to their hometowns, pay a tax, and register.  This was when Mary was expecting Jesus.
2. Jesus is born in David’s birthplace.
Verse 4.  Why did Joseph have to go to Bethlehem?  King David was a great great grandfather to him.  He was from Bethlehem.  All his family was there.  He took Mary with him.

If somebody comes to your house, where would you normally put them?  In a guest room.  Where was there no room because of the census?  The inn, which is a word that meant simply a guest room in a house.

So, Joseph came to Bethlehem to obey Caesar.  He was there because that’s where David’s descendants lived.  His family lives there.  And there are too many people there obeying the census.  Where are we going to put all those people?  Looks like the family put them in the guestroom, known as the inn.

3. Jesus is born into hardship.
“Notice what’s missing? First, there’s no urgency. Joseph wouldn’t have taken a ready-to-deliver Mary on such an arduous journey. Instead, “while they were there, the days were completed for” Jesus to be born (in other words, they stayed a while). Also, there’s no begrudging innkeeper (in fact, there was no inn at all, as you’ll see). Now-a-days families might stay at a hotel, but not in Israel at that time. Back then, family stayed with family—especially pregnant family members.”
I just quoted the Answers in Genesis article.

Still, why did they lay him in a manger?  Sometimes if a night was cold, or in this case, tons of people were in town, families would put their guests upstairs and then bring their animals into the living room to either keep them warm or from being stolen.  So Joseph’s family would not have shut a woman in labor out onto the streets, especially Joseph’s bride.  They could not let her rest upstairs, but they did let her lodge in the living room with the animals.

4. Jesus still suffered hardship.  I mean, why didn't one of Joe's relatives offer up their bed for Mary to birth Jesus in a more sanitary fashion?  Why did she have to have her baby in basically the living room of the house?  Did she already have some stigma from being pregnant before marriage?  Were Jesus and his new Church which consisted of Mary and Joseph already receive ostracism?

Then again, I wonder, did houses have different rooms like they do now?  We take so much for granted.  Probably the family slept in the living room with the animals while guests stayed upstairs.  People just did not have privacy then.  So, I still don't know.  But I do like the Answers in Genesis article.

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