The mission of Jesus…
The Cross and the Cradle
August 3rd, 2019
Note: this is a republish from several years ago and has been enhanced and re-edited.
The concept of putting Christ in Christmas is a good idea. Matter of fact, it is the reason we celebrate Christmas.
We just crossed over from July to August, but as merchants begin now to start planning their promotions for the holiday season, I thought that right now might be a good time to put Jesus in the proper perspective.
Not only for this year’s Christmas celebration, but for every single day we draw breath. Let’s remember that the greatest gift was in fact the birth of the Messiah. That baby, lying in that cradle, was there on a mission. A man like no other man; before or since. The real gift he bought was, and is, Life!
Please excuse me while I make a mess of your crèche, lay waste to your tree trimmings, holiday feasts, and warm comfortable gatherings. I promise that, while I do so intentionally, it is not without purpose. That purpose being, to restore a foundation to Christmas, which many of us find gets lost in the event.
It’s perfectly fine for you to put things back the way they were once we’ve gotten the foundation right
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good indeed. Evening came and then morning: the sixth day.
Genesis 1:31 (CSB)
Okay, so we must go back a bit to reestablish this foundation. Back to the creation event in Genesis, as a matter of fact.
See God being God, he is timeless, while we are made in His image, we have bounds placed on us, that restrict us to a specific space and time. We can only exist in the moment that is ‘now’ and the place that is ‘here’, at any point in time. We are so accustomed to this fact we use the phrase ‘The here and now’.
God on the other hand isn’t, wasn’t and never will be bound by these constraints. Therefore, when he was creating the world and the universe that it sits in (in fact before that as well) He knew and was experiencing everything that ever did or will happen, throughout all of eternity. Oh, and not just in one location, but everywhere!
Before the first day of creation:
- God knew us in every detail.
- God came to love us with a love beyond human understanding.
- God saw our fall from Grace and betrayal.
- God was fully aware of what it would require to redeem ‘His creation’.
- He had already plotted out every step and delivered the message to the prophets.
- He already suffered on the cross and taking on himself the sin of His creation.
- He had already broken the back of sin and death and as the Messiah arose from the dead to deliver Life Eternal to those who would come to Him.
All of this, to restore that which was lost in the Garden; the relationship between himself and us. So that Christmas night, when Mary his mother went into labor, the baby who was God in the flesh, knew His mission.
The cross was already there in the cradle with him. But at the same time, so was the knowledge that He would redeem his own and reestablish the treasure that had been lost to him.
The cradle (manger) held a baby, a savior, God in the flesh, a promise, a fulfillment but most of all Life, for all who would embrace it.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Romans 3:23 (CSB)
Sin… pure and simple. Sin separated us from our creator. Sin put a void between us and the God that loves us without measure.
We don’t normally think of sin, the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus when we consider the manger, but we should. The manger wasn’t the reason for Christmas; it was the method by which God made a way for his creation to return to Him.
How much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by his blood, will we be saved through him from wrath. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.
Romans 5:9-10 (CSB)
The perfect sacrifice could not have been made except for that night in Bethlehem. Because of His birth, he set into motion the events that would result in our redemption and reconciliation. That baby was in fact God in the flesh!
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile everything to himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Colossians 1:19-20 (CSB)
It was by this child’s life blood that we can establish a relationship and kinship with God.
We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.
Romans 5:2-4 (CSB)
In that cradle, was the ultimate authority for everything we know and all that we have yet to understand.
For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, and you have been filled by him, who is the head over every ruler and authority.
Colossians 2:9-10 (CSB)
God came to be one of us, live among us. To surrender his life blood to purge us from the penalty of sin.
Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through his death he might destroy the one holding the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.
Hebrews 2:14-15 (CSB)
He came to be flesh so that He could fully comprehend and show us the way to life.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.
Hebrews 4:15-16 (CSB)
He came to adopt us into His family.
When the time came to completion, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
Galatians 4:4-5 (CSB)
The ‘why’ is because, He loves us, and we were separated from Him. Regardless of how ‘good’ we think we are, we all have sin.
If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:8-9 (CSB)
So, This Christmas
When you hear the Christmas music, as you are giving and receiving gifts, as you gather with friends and family; consider this.
God has always loved you. So much so that he took our form and came to dwell among us. He stepped down from His highly exalted realm to be with us for one solitary purpose; to redeem his creation; you.
The nativity display doesn’t tell the entire story. You must put a cross in that cradle to embrace all that Christmas is.
My prayer is that you do that this Christmas and everyday forward. Also, that you draw close to Him, that baby, the man that was and is God, the lamb that was slain in our place, the one who destroyed death and raised to new life to show us the way.
One Last Thing
See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel, which is translated “God is with us.”
Matthew 1:23 (CSB)
This is the central focus for all of this. His intent when he acted as the creator; our maker. It was his plan as he watched his chosen people struggle to deliver them. In the appropriate time for this he humbled himself to be born in the flesh and live among us. Later he would endure the cross and take upon himself the sin of the world, so that he could destroy sin and death forever. It is why when he ascended into Heaven to prepare a home for us, he left his Spirit to nurture us. And it is why he is coming back one day to finally call his bride home and vanquish his foes forever. It is in the name they attributed to him; Immanuel. God is with us.
That’s the why for all of this. For God to dwell with us; forever!
The Cross in the cradle; God is with us!
In His Grace!