John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life. (ASV)
One year, my daughter gave me a beautiful glass nativity scene for Christmas. At night, when lit, it gives a warm, peaceful feeling, reminding me that Jesus is the light of the world. Still, what makes this ornament special to me is the cross in the background standing tall over the manger scene. Reflecting on these two images together — the cradle and the cross — the following messianic Scriptures came to mind, which are the essence of God's purpose in sending His Son:
Psalm 22:14-16 – I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. (NIV)
Isaiah 53:5 – But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (NIV)
Zechariah 12:10a – And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child. (NIV)
Hence, the Messiah was born to die.
I really like John MacArthur's insights regarding the nativity story because his thoughts express the point that I am trying to get across:
- Here's a side to the Christmas story that isn't often told: those soft little hands, fashioned by the Holy Spirit in Mary's womb, were made so that nails might be driven through them. Those baby feet, pink and unable to walk, would one day walk up a dusty hill to be nailed to a cross. That sweet infant's head with sparking eyes and eager mouth was formed so that someday men might force a crown of thorns onto it. That tender body, warm and soft, wrapped in swaddling clothes, would one day be ripped open by a spear. ("God With Us, The Miracle of Christmas", John F. MacArthur, Zondervan Publishing Company, 1990, p. 116)
Have you ever thought of Christ's birth that way?
From this vantage point, perhaps we will see Christmas from a slightly different perspective this year: the cross is the reason for the season. May we never forget the price our Saviour paid to give us the free gift of eternal life.
Prayer: We thank You, Father, for sending Your only begotten Son into the world to redeem us from the curse of sin. As we celebrate the Messiah's birth, help us to see the cross behind the manger, a cross despised by the world but precious to all who believe. May Christ alone be the focus of our holidays, and His salvation the hope and centre of our lives. In Jesus' holy name, we pray. Amen.