Away in a Manger…I Mean Feed Trough

Chances are, somewhere in your house right now is a figurine set or picture depicting the nativity scene where Jesus, the newborn baby is wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.  The scene is complete with Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, shepherds, three wise men bearing gifts, animals, a small barn-like structure and some winged angels.  Sound familiar?  The other day, I took my kids to see Christmas lights, and about one-third of the houses with Christmas lights had some semblance of this scene in their yards.

The scene is nice, but it is VERY sterile and tame.  This night was anything but serene.  The angels weren’t winged creatures with halos.  There is no instance of angels having wings in the bible.  In fact, when most people saw angels, including the shepherds, they were petrified!

The manger that we see is a nice, neat box-like apparatus just slightly larger than the baby and filled with new hay.  In reality, it was a feed trough for the animals, and we aren’t even guaranteed the new hay.

Because of this birth and the jealousy of King Herod, many parents lost their infant sons.

The wise men weren’t there either, and they weren’t kings, and there weren’t necessarily three of them.  The fact is that there is no record of the number of wise men – only the number of gifts they brought.  We also know that by the time they found Jesus, he wasn’t in the stable any more.  He was in a house.

Then, there is the rushed visit to Bethlehem where they found no room in the inn.  That’s not entirely accurate as we understand it either.  The picture I have in my mind is some Jewish man standing in the doorway of a two-story building with a sign out front saying it is an inn.  This is not the case.  In  those days any house with an extra room was considered an inn.  Needless to say, Bethlehem was full, so they sent Mary and Joseph to the stable.

This was probably also not a barn-like structure.  It was probably more cave-like.

So, how’s that nativity scene picture again?  It’s nice, but it is not accurate.  It is very tame, and very kid-friendly.

The fact remains, however, that there was no room for Jesus in Bethlehem.  Today, we run into the same situations in lives all around us – maybe even our own.  Is there room for Jesus in your life?  If you’re just trying to compartmentalize your life, then the answer is NO.  This is because Jesus doesn’t want to just be another activity you do.  He wants to be what defines all of you.  He wants 100% of your life.

If there’s not room for Jesus in your heart, then pray and ask God to clean out your life so that you can be filled with the grace of God through Jesus Christ. Then, talk to someone about giving your life to Christ.  I would love to help you on that journey.

Merry Christmas, and may this new year bring a life change for you as you allow Jesus to fill you each day.  As always, if there is anything I can do for you, feel free to contact me at or at the church office at 245-1611.


About Johnathan Dobbs

I'm a Christian first. I'm a husband and father second. Then I am an avid outdoorsman (hiking, camping, climbing, canoeing, fishing, etc...). Right now, I have a passion for climbing and card tricks. I am the minister for the Aztec church of Christ in Aztec, NM. I look forward to meeting new people and hearing from all. View all posts by Johnathan Dobbs

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