Concordia Classical Academy

2101 Lor Ray Drive, North Mankato, MN 56003 • 507.388.4336

Archives for 2010 | pastor becker | Concordia Classical Academy

Pigs at the Manger

Pigs at the Manger.

In the Christmas Children’s Christmas service there was a pig at the manger. There was a dog too. The youngest children were dressed as animals gathered around the manger in the stable.

Now, a Bible scholar can tell you that it is historically inaccurate for pigs to be at the manger. Old Testament regulations designate pigs as “unclean” animals that are not kosher to eat. No pigs would have been allowed anywhere near Bethlehem. It was the height of shame that the prodigal son, when he had gone to a far country and squandered his inheritance was reduced to tending pigs. It was on the far side of the Sea of Galilee, in Gentile territory, that Jesus cast a legion of demons out of a man into a herd of pigs. How fitting for both of them.

But, theologically, how fitting that there should be a pig at the manger, because that is exactly why Jesus was born. Jesus came to be with those who are spiritually unclean, filthy pigs like us. He came to live with us and to die for us so that we can be made clean by his unlimited grace and forgiveness. Because Jesus was born, we are all welcome not only at his manger but at his banqueting table in heaven. Peter, before he was invited to the home of Cornelius, the Roman Centurion, saw a vision of a sheet full of unclean animals such as pigs and was told to eat them. As a good Jewish boy, he refused, but was puzzled by the vision until he realized that it God was telling him something not about pigs but people. He realized, as he told Cornelius, that “God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation.” (Acts 10:34-35)

But what about the dog at the manger? Dogs were considered unclean and excluded from Jewish areas as well. The Gentile woman at Sidon knew what Jesus meant when he responded to her request for help, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” (Matthew 15:26) But she also was right when she said that the little dogs get to eat the crumbs from the table. God wants his children to share his blessings with others.

There is an old fable about a dog in a manger who has no desire to eat the cow’s hay but growls and keeps the cow from it because he like to lay there. A “dog in a manger” is one who keeps from others what is intended for them but doesn’t make use of it themselves. As Christians, we are not to be a dog in the manger with God’s word and the good news of the Gospel which God intends for everyone. If we want to keep it to ourselves, it is a sign that we are spiritually asleep and don’t really understand what God’s word is for. It is for sharing with everyone.

This is why everyone is welcome at our Lutheran school.