A place prepared for you
December 28, 2009
by Rev. Eric Nelson, St. Paul Ev. Lutheran Church, Lester Prairie

It was hardly a fitting place for the Son of God. Such a regal child should be found in a place that is entirely first-class. The Gospel of Luke, however, informs us that when Jesus was born, he was wrapped in strips of cloths and placed in a manger, for the local inn at Bethlehem was completely booked.

A feeding trough for livestock is not where the Son of God belongs. But that is what he would encounter in his life. Despite the fact that the world was made through him, the world had no use for this child born of Mary. This child did not belong.

Herod, for example, did not welcome him. This king the Romans had set over Judea would attempt to slay this tiny child. Jesus, a descendant of David, was a threat to his rule.

During his ministry, Jesus would run into further opposition and hatred. He was criticized for healing on the Sabbath. He was accused of being possessed by the devil. He was dismissed as one who associated with tax collectors and sinners.

Since the world did not have any use for Jesus, it got rid of him. Plots were made by the powerful and influential of his people. Eventually they managed to arrest him and have him put to death on a cross by a reluctant Pontius Pilate.

He had no business on a cross. Pilate himself was fully aware that he was innocent. Despite his innocence, he was crucified like a common thug between two criminals – as if he belonged among the condemned.

What happened on that cross at Calvary is not about what he deserved. It was about what our sins deserved. Jesus endured a terrible death on a cross in order to answer for the sins of the entire world.

But Jesus did not belong among the dead. As a result, his lifeless body rose again. He ascended into heaven, where he sits at the right hand of the heavenly Father. That is where he rightly belongs.

Where do you belong? Do you belong to God? Would He want somebody like you?

The child born of Mary provides the answer. That child came into this broken world in order to establish your forgiveness. He came to manifest the grace, mercy, and love God has for you. That is why he was willing to die in your place.

Therefore, the whole matter has been settled. You have a place in the eternal kingdom with the heavenly Father. You belong to him. That is God’s gift for you – a gift wrapped in strips of cloth and placed in a lowly manger.

Merry Christmas!