Today we will continue our study of the animals surrounding Jesus at His birth. We know the characters. Let’s get to know the animals better. We may discover that we have personality traits similar to the characteristics of the animals.
Luke 2:7 says, “And she (Mary) gave birth to her firstborn, a Son. She wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” People in Bethlehem did not provide a place where Jesus could be born. However, the animals welcomed Him into their shelter. It may have been a little stinky but I don’t think that bothered Jesus.
As I gaze upon our nativity scene, I pick up a little lamb. I also pick up the figure of baby Jesus, the Lamb of God.
In John 1:29, John the Baptist proclaims, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John not only gave Jesus a title but defined His purpose. Jesus was born, probably among lambs, in order to provide salvation for people. He would die for the salvation of the people who would not provide Him a warm, clean place to be born. I think Jesus, as the Lamb of God, would have been very comfortable among some four-legged creatures who were snuggled down for the night in a cozy barn.
The lambs and sheep surrounding Jesus at His birth, symbolize us. Jesus came to earth and was born in a stable to offer us eternal life. We cannot forget the words of John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” We need the Lamb of God.
Sheep are rather dumb animals. No other livestock requires more handling and detailed direction than sheep. We will have to admit that we can act and react in some not so brilliant ways. At times, we can be stubborn and dumb like sheep. If we had lived over 2000 years ago, we may have been like the innkeeper who turned away Mary and Joseph. Today, do we have room in our hearts for Him?
Isiah 56:3 states, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” We are sheep. Jesus is the Lamb who came for His sheep. I Peter 1:19 says we are redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
Jesus says in John 10:27-28, “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.”
If we are part of the Lord’s sheep fold, we can personalize Psalm 23. We are privileged to have the Lord be our Shepherd, We can be confident that we shall not want for provision. We know we will lie down in green pastures and be led by still waters. The Lord assures us He will restore our souls and guide us in paths of righteousness. He does it for His name’s sake. Even though we may walk through valleys and shadows, we are told that we do not need to fear evil because He promises to be with us. He prepares us a table even if we are surrounded by enemies. He will anoint our heads with oil. Our cups will overflow. We have the blessing of knowing goodness. Mercy will be available and we will always dwell in the house of the Lord.
I now place a couple of little lamb figures in our nativity scene. I put one close to the feet of Jesus. This little lamb represents those of us who have a personal relationship with Jesus. We desire to sit at His feet and learn from Him. We want to hear His voice and follow Him as our Shepherd. I place another lamb further back in the stable. This one may symbolize the one lost sheep that Jesus talks about in the parable of the lost sheep. (see Matthew 18:10-14) Jesus desires to bring this little lamb into His fold.
During this Advent season, I encourage you to carefully examine your life and determine your location in the manger scene. Do you truly believe He is the Lamb of God? Is He your Shepherd? Do you hear His voice? Have you invited Him to be born in your heart? Is there room in your life’s inn for Him?