The widow of Zarephath had one at the ready for Elijah’s visits (1 Kg 17:9).
A couple in Shunem made one for Elisha whenever he came passing through (2 Kg 4:9-11).
And Martha offered hers to the traveling Jesus (Lk 10:38).
What is it? Room.
Earth had none for its Creator, however.
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
(Lk 2:7 NASB).
No room was prepared for His arrival.
But God prepared room.
He prepared room in Mary for the Messiah to be birthed into a lost and dying world. He had room prepared in a stable the eve of the Savior’s birth. And a manger stood at the ready to receive the delivered Deliverer.
Jesus, born in a stable, laid in a manger—all the room there was to offer. But it was room prepared by the providence and provision of God. The providence of God, that went so far as to have a census decreed, also fulfilled the prophesy for the Bethlehem birthplace.
Would we even know what a manger is, if not for its mention in the familiar Story? I doubt this city girl would otherwise know. But that manger was room enough to cradle the Son of God.
That ordinary feeding trough was transformed by the arrival of Jesus. (Likely unaware that He was satisfying His divine mission even then.) For He came to fill and transform every space He inhabits—even as a newborn infant lying in a common feeding trough. That manger became a royal crib merely by the Father’s provision and the Son’s presence.
Mary swaddled that child, her precious son, and ever so gently laid Him in that rough-hewn crib. It was all she had—but she gave it all.
Mary welcomed earth’s Visitor with hospitable love—preparing Him room, the Babe of God.