When we recently went to the nursing home to play Christmas music for the residents, I shared the gist of the following with them.
Most everyone but an ardent atheist have no problem with Christmas and a baby in a manger. Even those of other religions accepted that Christmas was a Christian holiday and rarely complained before. But even those who claim to be Christians tend to forget and gloss over the real Christmas gift – That the baby grew up and died for our sins on the cross. Without the cross, the birth of Jesus is just a virgin birth, miraculous for sure, but it in itself was just preparation for the cross. Every event surrounding the birth of Jesus was in light of the cross.
- John the Baptist wasn’t preparing others for a baby. He was a baby himself. John the Baptist was to prepare others for the ministry and death on the cross of the Messiah.
Luke 1:16-17 (ESV)
16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God,
17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
- Zachariah, the Father of John the Baptist, showed that the birth of the Messiah was just a step along the road to the cross.
Luke 1:76-79 (ESV)
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
- Even the shepherds in the field were told that the baby in the manger would be their Savior. They were looking forward to the future events not just focusing on the baby in the manger.
Luke 2:10-12 (ESV)
10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
- Simeon, at the temple, also was looking beyond that little baby Jesus to the future.
Luke 2:34-35 (ESV)
34 “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed
35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
- Anna, the prophetess in the temple, also was looking beyond the baby Jesus to the future.
Luke 2:38 (ESV)
38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
So if you are celebrating Christmas today make sure all your celebration and focus is toward the future of that little baby Jesus in the manger, that became an adult God/Man, was crucified on the cross and has risen from the dead. Otherwise you have left out part of the Christmas Story.