But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12 NIV)
A manger is a feeding trough. The King of kings was born as a helpless baby and laid in a feeding trough. What a way to enter the world of humanity in order to make redemption!
From this humble beginning, Jesus grew up, began an itinterent ministry, performed miraculous signs and wonders, taught the truth of God, submitted Himself to Roman execution by crucifixion as a perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world, and walked out of the tomb alive, conquering death on behalf of all who trust Him with their lives.
The cross and the empty tomb cast their shadow on the manger. The incarnate One, God in flesh-and-blood, came to make redemption for His broken and rebellious Image Bearers – for us humans created in His Image and dearly loved through and beyond all the flaws and failures and sin. But make no mistake about it, the manger casts its shadow on the cross and the empty tomb as well.
It is no ordinary Jewish rabbi who hangs on that cross. It is the Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. Who Jesus is makes the cross the payment for sin for all humanity, because His sacrifice was the only one that could do so. And God-in-the-flesh could not be kept in death’s grip because He is the Giver of life itself.
“Merry Christmas” just doesn’t seem to be enough to capture this moment. It is about far more than making merriment. It is about far more than a family gathering with the exchange of gifts and a big meal. It is about far more than Santa and Rudolph and Frosty. This is why Christians the world over celebrate the birth of Jesus: we celebrate the birth of the Son of God who is Redeemer and Savior and Lord to us. And as Redeemer and Savior and Lord, Jesus calls for us to give Him the one gift He desires most, but will not take from us by force: the kind of faith in Him that says to Him, “I am yours, Jesus. All of me. Make me what you want me to be.”
Jesus Christ was born into our world. He died for our sins. He was raised from the dead. He sits on the throne of the universe and King of kings and Lord of lords. Hallelujah, Jesus is my Redeemer and Savior and Lord!
Joy to the World, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing…
Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy…
He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love…
Have a blessed Christmas!