The Manger and the Cross.
A Christian media company did a survey asking Americans the following question: How much of the Christmas story found in the Bible can you tell from memory?
- 22% were able to tell it all accurately.
- 31% were able to tell it with some details off.
- 24% were able to give just a quick overview.
- 17% couldn’t tell any of it.
The conclusion? Although most people in America hang Christmas decorations and exchange gifts on December 25, only 1 in 5 can provide all the details, meaning very few people actually know the CHRIST of Christmas.
John 3:10-15 says this: 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony.
12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus here, a Pharisee, about the concept of being born again. If anyone should have understood this, it was Nicodemus, who knew the Scriptures inside and out. Nevertheless, Nicodemus saw Jesus’ miracles with his own eyes and recognized that no one could possibly do the things Jesus did unless he was from God Himself.
For all the Nicodemus’ throughout history, Isa. 1:18 offers this, “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
The death and resurrection of Jesus was not a random event. Jesus predicted that He would die by crucifixion, be buried, and rise from the dead. The prediction that He would die from crucifixion is very significant because He could not have possibly controlled that.
Here are just a few incredible prophecies fulfilled by Jesus (there are over 300+ Old Testament prophecies that Jesus fulfilled):
Isa. 50:6-I gave My back to those who struck Me, And My cheeks to those who plucked out My beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting. The ‘torture of the Messiah’ was fulfilled by Jesus in Mat. 27:26 & 30.
Psa. 22:16-For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet… Messiah’s hands and feet pierced was fulfilled by Jesus in Mat. 27:35.
Zachariah 12:10-And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. Messiah’s side pierced was fulfilled by Jesus in John 19:34.
Isa 53:9-And they made His grave with the wicked— But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. Messiah buried in a rich man’s tomb (Joseph of Arimathea), was fulfilled by Jesus in Matt. 27:57-60.
As we celebrate and remember the manger this Christmas, we also must remember the cross. They go hand in hand.
- The Manger was a Place of Humility: It was a place for cattle and poor humble servants.
- The Cross was a Place of Humility- Only the worst of thieves and criminals died on a cross.
- The Manger was a Place of Shame- It was a place for those who had few possessions…not for a King who created and owned the universe.
- The Cross was a Place of Shame- Those placed on the cross were naked and mocked.
- The Manger was a Place of Rejection- There was NO ROOM in the inn.
- The Cross was a Place of Rejection- Jesus was rejected by his own people, the religious leaders, and society.
- The Manger was a Place of Miracles- The Virgin Birth.
- The Cross was a Place of Miracles- Jesus bore our sin and shame.
- The Manger was a Place of Victory- Satan realized his doom.
- The Cross was a Place of Victory- Sin was defeated, Satan was judged, and salvation was secured.
- The Manger was a Place of Glory- as Jesus came as God in the flesh.
- The Cross was a Place of Glory- In Galatians 6:14 we echo the words of Paul, “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…”
It’s because of the manger AND the cross that man can live forevermore, thanks to Jesus!
Rev. Jon Barrett | Executive Director of CVCCS