Start at the manger and then go to the cross

24 Dec

Where will your journeys take you this Christmas? Will you go over the river and through the woods to visit family? Will you get on an airplane to visit relatives? Will you ride a ferry and cross a bridge to connect with old friends?

Journeys play a big part in the Christmas story. From an earthly perspective, Jesus Christ’s journey certainly had many twists and turns.

  • Gabriel journeys from heaven to earth twice to deliver news to Mary (Luke 1:26-38) and Joseph (Matthew 1:18-25).
  • Mary & Joseph journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem (Luke 2:1-7).
  • The shepherds journey from the fields to the stable (Luke 2:8-20)
  • The wise men journey from the east to the house where Jesus is (Matthew 2:1-12).
  • Joseph, Mary, and Jesus journey from Bethlehem to Egypt, and then later back to Nazareth (Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23).

Last month, my wife and I visited Disneyland in SoCal. I always enjoy seeing it decorated for the Christmas holidays. As you walk down Main Street, you pass the Emporium. Each window has a display of a scene from one of the latest Disney animated movies. Each window tells one part of the story.

The manger in Bethlehem only tells one scene of the story of Jesus Christ. If you focus only on the baby in the manger, you will miss the whole point of the story. In order to fully understand the story of Jesus, start at the manger, and then go to the cross. The cross is why Jesus came. That was his purpose.

Listen to how Jesus described why he came to earth.

  • Matthew 20:28, “even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
  • Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
  • Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
  • John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Jesus Christ did not come to be:

  • A baby in a manger
  • A Christmas ornament
  • A decoration on a lawn
  • A story told once a year
  • A character in a pageant
  • A reason to give presents
  • An excuse to visit family
  • A reason to be nice to neighbors you don’t like the other 364 days of the year
  • A time for a ceasefire or a call to end a war
  • A reason for a party

Jesus Christ came to be our Savior. He was born to die. He came to pay the full and final price for our salvation. He came to give his life as a sacrifice. He came to ensure our forgiveness and freedom from sin. He was born to die so that we might spend eternity with God.

During his life on earth, Jesus never instructed his followers to remember his birth. But he gave us two practices, two ordinances, baptism and communion or the Lord’s Supper, so that we might remember his death and resurrection.

In your spiritual journey, start at the manger, and then go to the cross. Remember his birth, but consider his death. Confess your sins and receive the gift of forgiveness and eternal life he offers.

This is the synopsis of a devotional shared during the Christmas Eve service at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on December 24, 2015.


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