It's Christmas Eve and I'm thinking of Mary giving birth to the Christ-child, as I'm sure you are too. I can see them traveling by donkey or camel, Mary riding with her legs dangling to one side of the animal. Mary is exhausted and wondering when, oh when, they will arrive in Bethlehem. Joseph's brow wrinkles with concern for his young wife, especially when she moans with merciless labor pains.
I can only imagine their frustration when they discover that the town, packed with sojourners, has no rooms available for them. What will they do? Where will they go?
"The time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Luke 2:6b-7And this is how we reminisce on Jesus' birth. We think of the baby Jesus in the manger, with straw lining the makeshift crib. The world finds much comfort in Jesus remaining in the manger -- a cooing, gurgling baby boy with dimpled cheeks and glistening eyes.
But that's not how the story ends.
The story ends with the baby Boy growing up, teaching the Word of God to multitudes, healing the sick, and raising the dead.
The story ends with the God-Man being betrayed by a close friend, beaten to a bloody pulp and hung on a cross to pay a vile sinner's sentence.
The story ends three days later when He raises Himself from the dead, conquering death and the grave.
The story ends when you and I accept His death on the cross as payment for our sins, receiving salvation and eternal life.
And the story has yet to end. One day He will carry His believers to heaven with Him, in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye. One day He will judge the wicked of the world and the evil one that has deceived the world since the Garden of Eden. One day He'll truly have the last say. Hallelujah!
The challenge of Christmas comes with choosing to focus on Jesus as He is -- God, the Son. He is the Baby in the manger. He's also the God-Man that died for my sins and for yours. Don't keep Him in the manger.
That's not the half of it.
Loving the Jesus of the Manger and the Cross,