From December 1 to Christmas Day,, we're offering a brief daily Advent reflection, aimed at making the Christmas Scriptures come alive anew, with three-dimensional characters and reminders of the real world people who welcomed Jesus, and from whom He began to learn about us in order to be our Advocate as well as our Savior. You can find these short reflections daily after 10 a.m. at http://www.madetomatter.org/Advent-Reflections-2017.
Manure and the Manger
by Randy Kilgore
And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. --Luke 2:7
Among the first things Jesus experienced on Earth was the smell of manure.
From his first human breath, Jesus was collecting the experiences He would draw on when sitting at the right hand of God to speak for us. Are the smells of the barn familiar to you? When you are praying, Jesus not only hears your requests and praises, He knows the things your senses are experiencing. He knows you fully, right down to the smells of the places you labor while others are still sleeping.
From Mary and Joseph Jesus would also learn the fears of young mothers-to-be and the struggles of a father to protect and feed his family. And so much more...
Imagine, for example, the fears and doubts and emotions of refugees, who flee their homes and the ravages of war, famine and other terrors. Mary and Joseph had years to explain to Jesus what it was like for them to run to live, as Herod sought to kill Jesus. So, when refugees lift their prayers to Him; or when others lift them up to Him because the refugees are too weary or too terrified or even too angry to find words for a Savior, Jesus doesn't just hear the words; He connects them to the fears of His earthly parents in their own flight.
Even the darkest corners of our soul are known to Jesus; those places only we visit and which make us believe we are beyond redemption. Even in those places, Jesus knows our thoughts and the damage we do dwelling there. When others cannot love us, Jesus will. When we cannot love ourselves, Jesus will. Even when our actions cause the world to draw away from us in revulsion, Jesus steps forward with arms extended.
So it is for each of us. With the birth of Christ, mankind could never again say "No one understands" or "No one cares." Jesus understands. Jesus cares. By understanding us; by becoming one of us; and overcoming all the temptations we face, Jesus qualified to stand in our stead. He then gave up His life to erase the stains in ours.
This King of Kings, born amidst the lowing cattle, the scratchy swaddling clothes, and the damp smell of a stable, chose to be in that place. He chose to experience the joys and sorrows, pains and triumphs, fears and comforts of a human life. Why?
So He could lead us safely back to God.