We have beautiful manger scenes each Christmas. They differ in some respects, but most of them include all the characters of Jesus’ birth story (even though the main characters, including shepherds and wise men were never there at the same time). Almost all depictions include a wooden lean-to that shelters the Holy Family, as well as a wooden manger.
It’s unlikely that wooden structures, as humble as the mangers scene’s, were used. Bethlehem has little wood available, but it does have an abundance of something else—caves. Most inns of that age were built on top of those caves. They were storage places, animal pens and, as the Christmas story tells us, the place where Jesus was born. It’s even more humble than the pictures we have in mind. The manger itself may have been a hollow feeling of trough dug out of the rock floor.
So Jesus’ birth was far more humble than we have even imagined. A rough place for the Son of God to appear. But there’s meaning in this. Today we tend to “worship” people at the top of the economic ladder. They live in the mansions that we can only imagine. And—for us—they’re utterly unapproachable.
What a difference Jesus was and is. Even though he did meet with some wealthy and important, he made a point of regularly associating with the least of people. That hasn’t changed. Anyone can come to Jesus in belief and prayer and know that they are infinitely important to him. You are. That’s a major point of the Christmas story.
However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. John 6:37