By Jen Smidt

The dirty manger


“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger” (Luke 2:7).

This is without a doubt my favorite time of year. I love everything about it: glowing lights, fragrant trees, cheerful carols, and cherished memories. One special Christmas memory and a song lyric add a depth of worship and gratitude that I will treasure in my heart forever.


Fifteen years ago when I gave birth to my firstborn son, the staggering reality of what exactly Jesus offered to us in the gift of Himself became most tangible. As I held my newborn baby boy in the Christmas candlelight, tears flowed as I tried to comprehend that my great and glorious God took on this frail, infantile form for me. Never before had I truly understood the magnitude and humility of His incarnation. As if occupying a small, utterly dependent body of flesh wasn’t enough, He ordained that His first place of rest be in a dirty feed trough.

God chose to have His Son enter the world in a stable and be laid in filthy slop so we could know that our sinful hearts are not too lowly of a place for him to occupy.

Why there? God could have chosen anywhere to rest His tiny head. Yet my soul is pierced as I remember the dirty manger is my heart too, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus can.


God chose to have His Son enter the world in a stable because He understands our need for rescue so much so that he was willing to lay in that rough and smelly receptacle so we could begin to know his love for us. He desires to dwell in our dirty hearts of stone and make them hearts of flesh, so that we may know that we are clean and forgiven.

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13). As his chosen children, we are given the gift of Jesus, and we are now in him. We are members of his Family, and we are near and dear to His heart. Celebrate! Party! Worship and adore him this Christmas season. The trough of our soul has been cleansed and filled with the most precious of gifts, the righteousness of Christ who humbled himself to lie in a dirty manger.

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