Away in a manger
Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance. Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
“A cry was heard in Ramah—
weeping and great mourning.
Rachel weeps for her children,
refusing to be comforted,
for they are dead.”
When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. “Get up!” the angel said. “Take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead.” Matthew 2:16-20 NLT
From the text, we are provided with evidence of the nature of the world when Jesus was born. Children occupied a risky position in the Hellenistic society of the first century. Sometimes, children were loved and sometimes exploited. The attitude towards children is dependent upon how they were perceived as benefiting the family. Herod’s attitude demonstrated this family abuse when he ordered “to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under.” Children clearly were not presumed to be blessings in the non-Christian culture during the time of our Lord, Jesus Christ. This attitude is in contrast with the Hebrew culture where all children were considered to be gifts from the Lord. Mark, from the text, cited Rachel as she spoke representing the mother of her people when she cried, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” (Genesis 30:1). Hannah prayed in the Temple for a child. When God answered, she named him Samuel which means, “God has heard.” As promised to God, she later offered Samuel to the Lord’s service (see 1 Samuel 1:20, 28). Hebrew culture elevated the family and children! This is what we see from Jesus’ when parents brought their children to be blessed by Him. “‘Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children” (Mark 10:14). It is important that children understand that the Lord Jesus Christ cares for them so much that they too can express their faith to Him even at a young age. This is what the hymn, “Away in a Manger” conveys. The simply-worded song appeals to both young and old to express dependence and trust in God’s faithful care. After it was written, it became the first Christmas song learned in early childhood. This Christmas, it is important that we take time to help our children see beyond the glitter of the Christmas season and teach them the true meaning of Christ’s birth. The most important event that was ever told to man happened in Bethlehem at Christmas.
“Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head; the stars in the sky looked down where He lay, the little Lord Jesus, asleep an the hay.
The cattle are lowing; the Baby awakes, but little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes; I love Thee, Lord Jesus! look down from the sky, and stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.
Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay close by me forever, and love me, I pray; bless all the dear children in Thy tender care, and fit us for heaven, to live with Thee there.”