8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;
11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
The Sign of the Saviour
Signs are meant to point you somewhere. The signs of God are meant to point you to God. Throughout the history of mankind, God has given us so many signs.
But there is something unexpected here. We are talking about the sign of the Saviour of the world. The message was announced by an angel of the Lord. What was the sign?
Luke 2:12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.
We’d expect the Saviour of the world to arrive with a grand entry. Just suppose you brought an overseas friend to the National Day Parade. Your friend had never seen the President of Singapore. So you’d tell him what signs to look for, to recognize when the President arrived. What would you have told him? Probably things like, the black Mercedes slowly driving into the parade square, escorting with traffic police motorcade, etc. And this is just the president of Singapore! Not the super power nations like America, Russia or China.
But what was the sign of the Saviour? A baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger!
No wonder the world at that time missed the sign. The Jews were waiting for their Messiah, the Saviour. But when He came, they missed Him altogether! They wanted something grand, spectacular, impressive, like a knight wearing shining armour riding on a white horse. They wanted a sign, but not the sign of a baby in a manger!
Why did God choose such a simple sign for the Saviour? God is sovereign and He is in total control. He did not simply “allow” His Son to be born in a stable, He actually planned it and ordained it!
What does the sign tell us?
I. The Sign of Humanity – “You will find a baby”
Jesus Christ the Son of God was born as a baby. This brings us face to face with the truth of the Incarnation - God embodied Himself in human flesh. Although Jesus was fully and truly God from all eternity, He took on humanity when He was born as a baby on Christmas day.
Take note, He did not cease to be God, although He did temporarily laid aside the outward glory of His Godhood. Neither did He become half-God and half-man, for He remained fully God and fully man. We can’t comprehend it, but the Lord Jesus Christ was the God-man, divinity and humanity joining together in His one Person.
Why did God do that?
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
Hebrews 2:14-15 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil – 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
This is the central truth of Christianity. Jesus became man to die for our sin as a man. What we could not do, he did for us through his Son. If He had not been born, He could not have died for our sins. And He would not have risen from the dead. But thank God, He came, and we are saved when we put our faith in Him.
But this is what Christians believe. And this verse teaches us that the Lord from heaven entered this earth as a tiny, helpless baby.
II. The Sign of Helplessness — “Wrapped in cloths”
It sounds like a contradiction; how could the almighty God be described as helpless? But when Jesus was born as a baby, He was weak and helpless just like any other babies. He had to be wrapped in cloths to be protected from the harsh elements. Why did He do that?
Philippians 2:7-8 Jesus made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death -- even death on a cross!
Jesus became a helpless baby, pointing us to the day when He had grown up as man, standing before the Jewish authorities, bound and guarded as if He was a criminal. When falsely accused, he made no reply. When reviled, he refused to answer in kind. He stood before his accusers with his hands tied, awaiting the verdict that would end his life. It is no coincidence that he entered the world as he left it - bound and helpless.
He was bound that we might be set free. He died so that we might live.
III. The Sign of Humility – “Lying in a manger”
What is a “manger”? It is something like a stable or perhaps a feeding-trough. In the first century, stables were often nothing more than a circle of stones around a hollowed-out cave in the side of a hill. Mangers were not the beautiful, clean places we see in our Christmas pageants. They are lonely, dirty, smelly places made for animals.
Obviously the Saviour of the world didn’t belong here in the manger. The Son of God from heaven deserved the best the world had to offer. He came from heaven to earth - and ends up in a stable? How can that be? Suppose you had all power and all money and you could choose the time and place and manner of your son’s birth. Would you choose to have him born outside, in a stable? That doesn’t make any sense.
2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.
This is a divine exchange! Jesus became poor so that you might become rich. He became weak so that you might become strong.
Whosoever will can come to Jesus. He was born like this in order that the humble might feel invited to come to Him. The very manner of His birth—turned away from the inn, born in a stable—was an invitation to the rejected, the abused, the mistreated, the forgotten, the overlooked, to come to Him for salvation. “We might tremble to approach a throne, but we cannot fear to approach a manger.” If Jesus had been born in Paris or in Beverly Hills, only the rich and famous would feel at home with Him. But since he was born in a stable, all the outsiders of the world (and there are far more outsiders than insiders) would instinctively feel a kinship with Jesus.
In another story, we would find wise men from the east coming to worship the new born Saviour. They brought with them precious gifts to offer to Him.
Therefore, whether you are rich or poor, young or old, you are welcome by the Saviour.
Luke 2:10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people.”
God’s signs can come to anyone and everyone, not just a select few. Whosoever will may receive, whosoever listen will hear. In the first Christmas, God sent the greatest sign of His love through the birth of His Son, Jesus Christ.
God offers His signs to each of us. Nobody needs to be left out. God’s love is for all, and He reaches out to all. Today, whoever you are, whatever you have done in the past, whether you are Christians or non-Christians, God’s love includes you. He speaks to you, He gives you His signs to lead you to Him, so that you may receive healing and hope, blessings and salvation.