Luke 2:7 New Living Translation
“(Mary) gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.”
There has been much speculation regarding the location where Jesus was born. He wasn’t born in a manger, but rather laid in a manger after birth. Just what is a manger? A manger is a food trough for animals. Luke’s Gospel is the only one of the four gospels that goes into detail about the birth of the Christ child.
I’ve come across 3 scenarios for the location of the animal food trough where Christ was laid. 1) It could have been just as it has been depicted in film, on Christmas cards and in our imaginations. A barn with stalls and a wooden food trough with animals all about and all the rich fragrances that come with that type of environment. 2) An early church tradition places the food trough in a cave where owners place their animals to protect them from the elements. It would very prosbably have been cold, dank and dirty. 3) Lastly, since Luke doesn’t use the words ‘inn’ or ‘innkeeper’, but rather the word ‘lodging’, Joseph and Mary could have been looking to stay at his family’s home. Joseph came from Bethlehem, so he and Mary went there for the census.
The interesting fact here is that people dwelled upstairs on the 2nd floor of their dwelling. They ate and slept there, while the animals and tools of their trade stayed downstairs. That is where the food trough would have been. The statement that there was no lodging for them simply meant that with family members coming to Bethlehem at the same time for the census there was no place for Joseph and Mary to stay upstairs. So they stayed among the beasts and the tools. It’s very possible that this is where the baby Jesus spent his first night.
In reality it matters not where he was born. More importantly, it is the fact that he was born that changes the trajectory of history. We can seem to agree that Jesus was laid in a hay filled food trough, not the most sterile of atmospheres. But God protected him so that he might fulfill that which he was sent to do. God offers us that same protection throughout our lives if we will only surrender to his will for our life. Until next time, walk with the King and be a blessing!