This child like Christmas hymn is a favorite of many. Like several others from our Advent series, it was written in the 1800’s. Martin Luther was the attributed author for years, but His authorship has come into question and cannot be proven. All we know is that it was part of a Lutheran children’s book published in 1885 in Philadelphia. The first two verses were originally published as a lullaby with the last verse added in 1892 as a children’s evening prayer (hymnary).
Jesus loves children, and I can’t imagine how dear it would be to see Him engage with them.
One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so He could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering Him. When Jesus saw what was happening, He was angry with His disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”Mark 10:13-15 (NLT)
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”Matthew 18:1-5 (NASB)
God is looking for those who have a certain quality that children have. Jesus said, “whoever humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Spiros explains the type of humility Jesus is referring to is humility “as to condition, circumstances, to bring low, to humble, abase. It has the idea of humbling oneself, to make oneself of low condition, to be poor and needy.” A child has no means of providing for himself. He has to be dependent on someone else for his every need. Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost (Luke 19:10), but we must realize we are in this lost state. We are poor and needy (like a child) with no means within ourselves to meet God’s standard. The realization of our heart condition without Christ brings about brokenness.
Embracing the truth about our hearts is necessary before we can embrace the truth of who Jesus is and what He came to do. Roy Hession says, “The breaking in of the truth about ourselves and about God, and the shattering of the illusion in which we have been living, is the beginning of revival for the Christian as it is of salvation for the lost” (We Would See Jesus).
We are not likely to be broken except at the cross of Jesus. The willingness of Jesus to be broken for us is the all compelling motive in our being broken too. We see Him, Who is in the form of God, counting not equality with God a prize to be grasped at and hung on to, but letting it go for us and taking upon Him the form of a Servant – God’s Servant, man’s Servant. We see Him willing to have no rights of His own, no home of His own, no possessions of His own, willing to let men revile Him and not revile again, willing to let men tread on Him and not retaliate or defend Himself. Above all, we see Him broken as He meekly goes to Calvary to become men’s scapegoat by bearing their sins in His own body on the Tree.Roy Hession
King David offers a beautiful prayer of repentance in Psalm 51. He had sinned against God by taking Bathsheba as his wife after having her husband killed. Nathan came to David to confront him of his sin and David responded in brokenness (2 Samuel 12:1-25).
I believe this is why David is referred to in Scripture as a “man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). David was willing to embrace the truth about himself and bring it to God. God is not looking for perfection, He is looking for brokenness.
When Jesus heard this, He told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”Mark 2:17 NLT
“Being broken is both God’s work and ours. He brings His pressure to bear, but we have to make the choice. Brokenness in daily experience is simply the response of humility to the conviction of God. And inasmuch as this conviction is continuous, we shall need to be broken continually” (Roy Hession, The Calvary Road). This humble attitude toward God is what Christ is talking about when He says we must be like children.
The sweet baby in the manger came to us in the lowliest way. He came in the complete humility and helplessness of a little child. “He will have compassion on the poor and needy, and the lives of the needy He will save” (Psalm 72:13 NASB).
1. Take some time to read and pray through Psalm 51.
2. Even though David had sinned against Bathsheba and Uriah, who did he acknowledge that he ultimately sinned against in verse 4.
3. According to verse 6, what does God desire in our innermost being?
4. What does David specifically ask for in verses 10-12?
5. Based on verse 13, what is the result of brokenness and God doing what only He can do in our hearts?
I pray that God will work brokenness in all of our hearts this Christmas. Praise be to God for His unspeakable gift! (2 Cor. 9:15).
Click here to listen to Casting Crowns sing Away in a Manger on YouTube.
Click here to listen to Piano Guys version on Spotify.
Click here to listen to a choral version on YouTube.