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					                                     Stuart Taylor
                      C.R.I.B.S. WEEK 3 – THE MANGER

                                           Luke 2:1-20

T     his morning I would like us to go on a
      journey down a really familiar road we
      know so well, where there doesn‟t
seem any need for direction. I‟d like us to
slow down to see if there are any signs that
                                                  more often than not, the key to what is
                                                  actually going on.

                                                  The Manger
                                                  Our Advent series our journey began with
we might have missed.                             Herod, then continued with the Magi. Today
Have you seen the film LA Story? It stars         we arrive at the manger. To really understand
Hollywood actor Steve Martin. In many             the meaning and significance of the manger
respects it is a regular romantic comedy …        we need to look for the signs, down a very
apart from the fact that one of the leading       familiar road. We are told as much!
parts in this movie is a Traffic Sign! The sign   Everything may not be quite as
spoke to him and said he was in trouble.          straightforward as we think.
 “The sign spoke to me and said I was in          Please turn in your Bible to Luke 2:1-20
                                                  Insignificant Manger
How good are you at reading signs? I‟m not
talking about the obvious signs like a traffic    The Greek word for manger is a great word -
sign saying 30mph, or an instruction on a         “Fat-ney”. I have discovered a good way to
door – saying push/pull – or even a               remember this word – a large horse! It is good
congregation falling asleep during a sermon.      if you picture this horse at the nativity scene!
That‟s easy, that‟s obvious.                      The word literally means „to eat‟. It usually
                                                  refers to a feeding trough or a stall.
No, I mean the subtle signs. Like when you
walk into a room – are you able to detect what    When the Child was born, there was no room
is actually going on under the surface? Or        for Him in the inn. The Greek word for Inn is
maybe during a conversation, are able to work     “katalyma”, No there was no katalyma in this
out what the person is actually saying, maybe     instance so unfortunately that meant Fat-ney.
even when they themselves are not sure.           No katalyma - Fat-ney. Luke seems to
                                                  apologize for this unbelievable failure.
In these circumstances repetition is often the
clue. People might say or do the same thing -     They left for Him an insignificant manger ...
maybe once, twice, maybe three times.             or was it?

How good are you at reading signs?                Manger – A Sign
You see what may seem subtle, subliminal –        In chapter 2 the manger seems to serve as a
often deemed unimportant or irrelevant – is,      literary axis, a centre of orientation. Three
                                                  times it is explicitly stated - repetition usually

HBCC – Stuart Taylor | C.R.I.B.S. Week 3                                 Pg 1
points to significance. Fat-ney – Fat-ney –         in Bethlehem, since Joseph could not find a
Fat-ney                                             lodging in that village, he took up his quarters
                                                    in certain cave near the village.”
Like “Manger – did you see the manger? –
DON‟T MISS THE MANGER!”                             It is most likely that Jesus was born in a cave.
                                                    This theory is supported by the geographical
There seems to be an intrinsic need for it. It is
                                                    features of Bethlehem. It was also very likely
somehow indispensable? A sign, pointing to
                                                    that the Manger was not made out of wood. It
something. Like a road sign that would save
                                                    would have been made out of stone and
your life saying: „Stop! Cliff ahead‟ (Sounds
                                                    somehow integrated into the cave. Like a
like a musical warning at Christmas?!)
                                                    stone casket.
The manger also repeatedly points to
                                                    We are also told that Mary wrapped Jesus in
something awesome & significant not to be
                                                    linen cloths. The word is spar-gan-oo. This
missed. So if the manger is a sign what is it
                                                    word was generally used as a medical term
pointing to?
                                                    and originated with Hippocrates, the fifth-
                                                    century BC physician, the Father of Medicine.
                                                    The word also applies to the cloths that are
Now what is obvious on the surface? The             used in the binding of a corpse for burial.
manger told the shepherds which baby they
were looking for. And it showed them that the       Consequently, Jesus was wrapped in burial
angel knew what he was talking about. No            cloths and laid in a cave in a stone casket.
doubt there are many sermons waiting to be          This – of course – was a sign. The next time
preached here about God coming down into            Jesus was in this position he would be a dead
the mess and muddle of real life. But not           man.
today!                                              This was a sign to the Shepherds of what was
It seems to me that there is yet more               to follow. This was a sign that Jesus was on a
significance to the manger than its confirming      mission that would lead to his death.
and reassuring role. What if the manger is          Add to this the 3 mentions of the manger = 3
itself a signpost, a pointing finger, to the        days in a tomb.
identity and the task/mission of the baby boy
who‟s lying in it?                                  The gift of myrrh is also significant because
                                                    myrrh was used as an embalming ointment.
The Grave                                           You can imagine the shepherds meeting on a
So let‟s look a little closer. How do we            hillside after the death of Jesus. Suddenly the
picture the scene containing the manger? Do         manger makes sense “Now I understand”. It
we have visions of a tidy, clean and organised      was a sign.
stable or maybe a „lean-to‟, enjoying the en-       Jesus‟ death was no accident.
suite privileges of neighbouring guesthouse!
Picture the scene - “I do apologise that you        The Last Supper
have to sleep here – but we really are full next    I don‟t think it ends with the first sign. Could
door – we do plan to make it up to                  there be another reason why Jesus was placed
you...Breakfast in bed? Maybe a newspaper in        in a feeding trough?
the morning? Feel free to use our leisure
                                                    A feeding trough was a dangerous place to
facilities. Don‟t forget – when the time comes
                                                    sleep! It wouldn‟t be your first choice. You
– I have plenty of hot water and clean towels
                                                    might get eaten! Perhaps by a very large
and a direct line to NHS Direct.”
Unlikely. Have you noticed the lack of
                                                    Despite these dangers he was born in a
references to encounters with inn-keepers and
                                                    feeding trough. Was this a sign pointing to the
luxury facilities?
                                                    future sense in which Jesus would somehow
The church father Justin Martyr wrote in            be consumed – eaten?
about 150 A.D. "But when the child was born
HBCC – Stuart Taylor | C.R.I.B.S. Week 3                                  Pg 2
Hold on, later on in his life, did Jesus say... “I   YOU in simplicity will find HIM in
am the bread of life. He who comes to me will        simplicity. There is a clear connection
never go hungry...”                                  between the focus and the target audience.
                                                     YOU in simplicity will find HIM in
“I am the living bread that came down from
heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will
live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I        „The Kingdom, the in-breaking Shalom of
will give for the life of the world”                 God, is available to everyone through Jesus‟
At the Last Supper, before the death of Jesus,       The manger was a sign that the saving power
scripture says: „Jesus took bread, gave thanks       of Jesus Christ was not just for the best of the
and broke it, and gave it to his disciples           best of the best, it was for everyone.
saying „Take and eat; this is my body‟
Is it possible that the fat-ney was a sign that      Conclusion
Jesus would be eaten. That Jesus would               So is the CRIB pointing to the Crucial
sacrificially lie in the feeding trough? Those       Relationship Initiated by the Saviour? The
who ate from the fat-ney would have life, they       crib seems to be a sign pointing to the grave.
would survive.                                       The baby was on a mission that would lead to
                                                     His death.
Yes, the manger was a sign that Jesus would
give himself to die – to be consumed – in            The Crib is a sign pointing to the last supper.
order to break the power of sin, to save us,         The baby was on a mission where through His
through his Amazing Grace.                           death He would save humanity,
                                                     The Crib is a sign pointing to inclusion. The
Everyone                                             baby was on a mission that would reach out to
There may be one last thing. There has to be         everyone.
some significance in the birth of the King of        So the answer is.........YES. A very big and
Heaven being announced to shepherds and              definite and clear.........YES. Yes – the
born into such basic and humble conditions.          manger points to the mission of the Saviour.
The narrative appears to contrast the power
and opulence of Augustus Caesar with the             Using words by Chris Martin – lead singer of
helplessness and simplicity of the newborn           Coldplay ...
Messiah and His first visitors.                       „No I don‟t want a battle from beginning to end
No katalyma meant Fat-ney. Fat-ney =                      I don‟t want a cycle of recycled revenge
poverty – simplicity. Was this a sign? Yes.
                                                     I don‟t want to follow death and all of his friends‟
Jesus lying in the manger was a sign that His
mission was for everyone - it identified with        Lord come and save us.
basic existence.                                     Lord God we approach the cave and kneel by
Not only this, the angels said to the                the manger. We see the sign. We understand
shepherds: This will be a sign to YOU.               the sign. You came to die. You came to break
                                                     the power of sin over our lives. You came for
This was not just the best of the best of the
                                                     everyone. Jesus, You are our Saviour. Please
best – but YOU – shepherds – people with
                                                     come and save us. Amen.
low social status, people often neglected &
despised by the rich/the successful/the

HBCC – Stuart Taylor | C.R.I.B.S. Week 3                                    Pg 3

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