Vol. 18, No. 8 – February 24, 2019
Luke 2:7, “And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
“Laid him in a manger,” uses the Aorist, Active, Indicative of the Verb ANAKLINO, ἀνακλίνω for “laid” that typically means, “to recline or sit down at a table, (to share in a meal),” as in all the other instances of this word in the NT, Mat 8:11; 14:19; Mark 6:39; Luke 7:36; 9:15; 12:37; 13:29. It has further eschatological implications in Mat 8:11, the first use, and Luke 12:37; 13:29 the last usages.
Mat 8:11,”I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.”
But here, it is used for “lying down” the baby Jesus in the manger, which was a feeding trough, as we will see next. Therefore, given that Jesus was the “Bread of Life,” who has come into the world for people to dine upon for salvation, John 6:51, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” This image of “lying” Him in a manger, is the image of an invitation for all to come and dine upon and with the “Bread of Life,” for salvation.
As the “Bread of Life,” Jesus was laid down in a “manger,” PHATNE, φάτνη that means, “manger, stall, or feeding trough.” Mangers were often made of stones laid like blocks, then plastered over with a substance to make them waterproof. These feeding troughs could also be carved from a single block of stone or wood, or simply made of dried mud. The animals ate from them.
It is used for the birth of our Lord here and in vs. 12, 16, when the angel of the Lord gave this as a “sign” to the shepherds that they had found the newborn king of Israel. These outcast shepherds would not have been allowed to visit Him in a palace. But they could come where possibly some of their own children had been laid.
This word is also used once more when Jesus used PHATNE to refute the legalistic Pharisees regarding the Sabbath Day in Luke 13:15, as Jesus is the “Lord of the Sabbath,” Mat 12:8, “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Cf. Mark 2:27-28; Luke 6:5f; 14:3f; John 5:16. Therefore, we also see the fulfillment of the Law in Jesus, who provides rest (Sabbath) for all who believe in Him, Heb 4:3, 11, cf. Heb 3:11, 18; 4:5
Heb 4:3, “For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, ‘As I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest,’ although His works were finished from the foundation of the world.”
Heb 4:11, “Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.”
The reason Jesus was laid in the manger was because, “there was no room for them in the inn.”
“No Room,” is the Greek negative OUK with the Noun TOPOS, τόπος that means, “place, location; area, region; room; station, office; possibility, or even opportunity.” It is used extensively in the NT. In Luke 14:9-10, 22, he used it for a “place” of seating at a banquet. Here, Luke uses it with the negative OUK to indicate there was “no place” for Jesus to be born, as the Greek Lexicon BDAG says it can be used in our passage for “an abode: a place, room to live, place to stay or sit, etc.” Cf. Luke 14:22; John 14:2.
The place that had no room for them was, “the inn,” the Noun KATALUMA κατάλυμα that means, “lodging place, inn,” or more typically, “guest room.” It is a compound Noun of the Verb KATALUO, “to unloose.” Therefore, KATALUMA has the derived meaning of “a place of unyoking or rest,” for animals.
It is only used here and in Luke 22:11; Mark 14:14. The latter two verses are the same scene, Luke 22:11, “And you shall say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, ‘Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?’” This is the scene of the last supper. The context also permits the sense of a dining-room.
Notice that for the last supper, they were not looking for an inn or hotel, as we would call it, or even a stable that houses animals, but an upper room or guest room of someone’s house, so that they could dine together for the Passover.
In addition, KATALUMA is not the usual Greek word for an inn, which is PANDOCHEION, πανδοχεῖον that means, “inn or lodge,” and is used once by Luke in Luke 10:34, for the place the Good Samaritan took the robbery victim. Another word is XENIA ξενία that means, “hospitality, guest room, or lodging,” used in Acts 28:23; Philemon 1:22.
As such, in our passage, we see that this is not a hotel where they will “keep the light on for you,” lol. It is the “guest room,” of someone’s house that was most likely a relative, even a poor relative, of either Joseph or Mary. Remember, Joseph and Mary were of the “Family and house of David,” and had relatives in that town. They were of the royal line and would not be left out on the streets knocking on door after door to be turned away. They were welcomed into a relative’s home. This relative’s house might have had several other guests staying with them because of the census being taken. Therefore, we do not know if she gave birth in the guest room or the stall / stable at the front of the house where the animals where brought in at night to rest and feed. But, we do know that after His birth, Jesus he was laid in a manger, a feeding trough, which was in the front room that was used for housing the animals. As such, our typical vision of where Jesus was born as seen in the following pictures is not accurate. He was not born in a lean-to or a cave, as has been popularized in our Nativity scenes over the years. He was laid in the manger at the front of the house that was the holding place for animals.
Therefore, because the guest room(s) of the house were full of family and/or guests who were in town to partake of the census, after his birth, Jesus was laid in a manger, which was a feeding trough for animals, in the front end of the house that was a stall or stable, as shown in these schematics, because the guest room or rooms were full with other people staying there.
As top view of a typical home looks like this:
Luke could have painted a sordid picture, had he so desired. Instead he uses the general word for a lodging place and states the simple fact that when Mary’s time came, the only available place for the little family was one usually occupied by animals. In addition, the eating trough or “manger,” was ideal for use as a crib. Even today in many places around the world, farm animals and their fodder are often kept in the same building as the family quarters.
Therefore, Luke does not portray a dismal situation with an unfeeling innkeeper as villain. Rather, he is establishing a contrast between the proper rights of the Messiah in His own “town of David” and the very ordinary and humble circumstances of His birth. Whatever the reason, even in His birth, Jesus was excluded from the normal shelter others enjoyed, cf. Luke 9:58.
Luke 9:58, “And Jesus said to him, ‘The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head’.”
This is consistent with Luke’s realistic presentation of Jesus’ humanity and servanthood, as he “gets right down to the little human details in this passage. How perfectly human He was — God manifest in the flesh!” (Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee).
This reminds us of the principle, “humility comes before glory.” Before there is glory, there must first be humility. That is the way the kingdom of God operates, Mark 10:31; James 4:6, 10; 1 Peter 5:5.
Mark 10:31, “The first will be last, and the last will be first.”
James 4:6, 10, “God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble… 10Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will exalt you.”
In the kingdom of God, first comes humility then comes glory. We see this modeled for us right from the Savior’s birth. True greatness is not always visible greatness. The incarnation of the Son of God in an animal’s feeding trough puts our glory-craving hearts in check.
“He well knew how unwilling we are to be meanly lodged, clothed, or fed; how we desire to have our children decorated and indulged; how apt the poor are to envy the rich, and how prone the rich to disdain the poor. But when we by faith view the Son of God being made man and lying in a manger, our vanity, ambition, and envy are checked. We cannot, with this object rightly before us, seek great things for ourselves or our children.” (Christ-Centered Exposition)
D. The Advent of the Son of Man, Luke 2:1-20.
2. The announcement to and adoration of the shepherds, vs. 8-20.
Luke 2:8, “In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.”
The first announcement to the general population about the Messiah coming into the world was given to “shepherds,” which is the Noun POIMEN that means “shepherd or herdsman.” It signifies one who cares for or tends a herd of animals, usually consisting of sheep, goats, and sometimes oxen. They did not merely feed the sheep; they cared for them and tended them. Typically, the shepherd’s day began at dawn and ended at dusk. When the flock was pasturing far from the home village, the shepherd remained with the sheep and spent the night in the sheepfold. In this way, uninterrupted care and protection was given to the flock.
“Beyreuther describes the task of the shepherd: ‘It was expected that the shepherds, and the servants who worked with them, would show caution, patient care and honesty. In the dry summer on poor soil, it was not easy to find new pasture at the right time as the flocks passed through lonely regions, or to balance properly grazing, watering, rest and travel. The shepherd had to care tirelessly for the helpless beasts (cf. Ezekiel 34:1ff.). Devotion to duty was proved in the nightly guarding of the flock against wild animals and thieves. In this respect, hired shepherds frequently disappointed their employers’.” (“Shepherd,” Colin Brown, 3:564).
Despite the difficulties and hazards of their profession, shepherds were often looked down upon in Jewish society. Because the leaders of Israel often failed in their task as “shepherds” of people, the OT notion of shepherd frequently expressed a negative idea. The Pharisees particularly seemed to despise shepherds, grouping them with the publicans and depriving them of certain rights in the community. For example, they could not be used as judges or even testify in a law court. However, when the Messiah was born, it was the despised shepherds in the fields nearby who were the first to receive the angelic announcement and the first to witness His glory.
Luke uses this word only in this narrative for the shepherds who received the announcement of the Messiah’s birth, vs. 8, 15, 18, 20. The other gospel writers used it for Jesus Christ as the “Good Shepherd” and for various analogies of the people and their leader, Mat 9:36; 25:32; 26:31; Mark 14:27; John 10:2-16.
Mat 26:31, “Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, ‘I will strike down the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered’.” Cf. Mark 14:27. This was a quote and prophecy found in Zech 13:7.
Jesus referred to Himself as the “Good Shepherd,” John 10:11, 14, in that He is the messianic Shepherd promised in the OT. Jesus fulfilled the role of the messianic Shepherd by gathering the lost sheep of Israel (and the nations); by giving His life for the sheep, unlike the hireling, and who on the Day of Judgment will separate the sheep from the goats, Mat 25:32-33. As the Good Shepherd, Christ gathers His flock and cares for them. The sheep know the Shepherd, and no one can snatch them out of His hand, John 10:27f.
Paul used POIMEN for Jesus as the “Great Shepherd” who was resurrected, Heb 13:20, and for the gift and office of Pastor-Teacher, Eph 4:11, who have a dual role: that of shepherding and teaching the flock of God.
One day the Great Shepherd will call His under-shepherds to account for the sheep they have been entrusted with, 1 Peter 5:2-4. As such, Peter also used POIMEN for Jesus Christ as the “Chief Shepherd,” ARCHIPOIMEN, who is the “Shepherd and Guardian of our souls,” 1 Peter 2:25.
That Jesus would be the “Great Shepherd” was prophesized in Ezek 34:23; 37:24.
Ezek 34:23, “Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd.”
Ezek 37:24, “My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them.”
This term was also used in ancient times for leaders and rulers caring and providing for their people. So, it carried a kingly connotation to it. “From the early Middle Kingdom of Eygpt (in the first interim period) the image of the king as the shepherd of his subjects is then a favourite one in literature; he is, e.g., a “herd for all the people” or the “herd who watches over his subjects”. The same metaphor is used for the gods; thus Amun is “the strong drover who guards his cattle” (hymn of the 18th dynasty).” (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament)
These shepherds were “staying out in the fields,” the Verb AGRAULEO, “to live outside, to be under the open sky,” “keeping watch,” which is the Verb PHULASSO, “guard, defend, watch over, protect, keep safe, or guard against,” with the Noun PHULAKE, “guarding, a guard, a watch, etc.,” “over their flocks,” EPI AUTOS HO POIMNE, “flock or literally sheep,” “by night,” NUX.
This narrative describes the customary work and responsibility of shepherds. Flocks were kept out in the open during the temperate seasons, and watches had to be established to protect the sheep from thieves and wild animals. Here we have a double emphasis on the guardianship and protection the shepherds gave to their flocks; just as Jesus does for His.
This narrative clearly illustrates Luke’s picture of Jesus as the Messiah who has come to the outcasts of society. Shepherding was considered ceremonially unclean, and shepherds were generally considered to be people of questionable character. That the good news should come to them first provides a striking picture of the mission of Christ, cf. Luke 5:31-32, cf. Mat 9:12; Mark 2:17.
Luke 5:31-32, “And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. 32I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance’.”
Luke 2:9, “And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.”
Interestingly, the word for “shone around” in regard to the “glory of the Lord,” DOXA KURIOS, is the Verb PERILAMPO, περιλάμπω that means, “to shine around, to shine about.” It comes from PERI, “around or about,” and LAMPO, “to shine, shine forth, illumine,” that originally emphasized the source of the light and later came to stress the function or effect of the light coming from an object. This is where we get our word lamp from. PERILAMPO is only used here and by Luke in Acts 26:13, when Paul was describing to King Agrippa, how Jesus first appeared to him on the road to Damascus. In both instances it described the visible effect of the “glory of the Lord” on those who were supernaturally visited. So, it means “to surround with light.”
We do not know the name of this “angel of the Lord.” It was most likely Gabriel who was involved by name in the announcements to Zachariah and Mary, Chapter 1, and most likely Joseph, Mat 1:20, but going unnamed there.
Given that the only other time PERILAMPO is used in the NT is for the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, it gives rise to the thought that this angel might have been Jesus Himself. In fact, the “glory of the Lord,” DOXA KURIOS that accompanied the visiting angel, is equivalent to the Hebrew concept of the KABHODH, the manifest presence of God, Ex 40:34f.; 2 Chron 7:1ff.; Psa 26:8; Ezek 1:28, that is also called “the Shekinah glory.” This glory is God’s power, His position, and His honor as expressed in many ways. More specifically though, the “glory of the Lord” is something that belongs immediately to the Lord and is a part of His supernatural being.
Similarly, the “star in the east,” that led the Magi to Jesus’s birth place in Matthew’s gospel, may have been a manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the “bright morning star.” As such, this “angel” might be Jesus. Nevertheless, we see this angel being surrounded by the light and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was as a manifestation of Him. If it were just an angel, he was given a stamp of authenticity by having this light shining around him, as a sign to the shepherds that he was from God.
“Terribly frightened,” is the Aorist, Passive Indicative of the Verb PHOBEO, “Fear, be afraid, become terrified; worship, reverence, respect,” with the Accusative Noun PHOBOS, and the Accusative Adjective MEGAS, “great.” Here we have a double emphasis of the fear that gripped them, just as it did to Zachariah and Mary, when the angel Gabriel appeared to them. It literally means, “they feared a great fear.” Remember, this type of fear also includes reverence and respect.
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.”
Just as the angel did with Zachariah and Mary, Luke 1:13, 30, the first thing he does is calm their fear, “do not be afraid,” using the Greek negative ME and the Verb PHOBEO in the Present, Middle or Passive Deponent, Imperative for a command.
“Good news” is the Present, Middle, Indicative of the Verb EUANGELIZO, εὐαγγελίζω that means, “bring or announce good news, proclaim, or preach (the gospel).” Which we noted in Luke 1:19, at the announcement to Zachariah. It occurs significantly more often in Luke than in any of the Gospels, and its appearance in Luke and Acts accounts for nearly one half of all NT uses. It implies that the proclamation of the gospel, the news brought by the angel, was certainly good news of the greatest kind.
The angel indicates that this news will bring them, “great joy,” MEGAS CHARA. Therefore, we see that the gospel message of Jesus Christ brings great joy. Joy is the response of those who see God at work through His servant Jesus or through His followers, Luke 10:17; 19:37; Acts 8:8; 15:3; cf. Luke 13:17. It characterizes those who put their faith in Him, Luke 8:13, and it is a by-product of repentance.
This joy was first intended for the shepherds but then for “all the people,” PAS HO LAOS, meaning first, all of Israel and secondly, every member of the human race. That is because Jesus came into the world to pay for the sins of every member of the human race, providing them eternal salvation. This gives great joy to those who believe, just as the shepherds did and thereby received this joy in their hearts.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson:
#19-016 & 19-017 & 19-018
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A PERSONAL NOTE FOR YOU
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore, our sins will never be held against us.
Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life. To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life. So right now, you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:
“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ,
died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”
If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!