I remember a children’s story of THREE trees, and how they would be used of God. 1. The first became the manger that Jesus used at His birth. 2. The second became the cross beam of Calvary, used of Jesus at His death. 3. The third became the first Christmas tree, where we each year remember Jesus. See each tells its own story of being used, like you and me.
1. CHRISTMAS PAST, THE CRADLE: The beginning of Christmas, remember the Lord’s death. Hebrews 10:5 “Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me.”
The Christmas Gift has two sides, God's gift to us, and our gift to Him: He gives us of Himself and we give ourselves to Him. Immanuel, “God with us.” or “With us is God,” This is the Christmas message! God manifest in the flesh, God and man, similar though not identical, He is all together man, and He is all together God, sharing a common life in the fellowship of Love.
Jesus was God’s gift for our redemption. Made possible by His birth. His death was made meaningful by His life. He was born to die, that we might live! This death was made immense by His resurrection! He conquered death, hell, and the grave, and so His gift continues giving to us eternally!
Each Christmas, we are reminded that Christ was “born to die.” Lying in the cradle, within a stable, is the first gift of Christmas, wrapped in swaddling clothes. Over the next 30 odd years much will happen, leading from the cradle to the cross.
Christmas should be a time of remembrance of the difference Christ has made in the, past, present, and future. And we do not need some CHRISTMAS CAROL ghost to guide us, only God’s Word and His Holy Spirit, so that we may remember.
2. CHRISTMAS PRESENT, THE CROSS: The ultimate goal of Christmas, remember the Lord’s steps (and walk in them).
Jesus showed mankind the eternal nature of God; because He so fully understood God, He was so fully able to reveal Him, and to bring man into fellowship with Him, and thus giving us eternal life.
He could not have done this, however, had he not also entered so deeply into fellowship with man as to share to the uttermost man's sufferings and sorrows and sins, at the last bearing them in His own body on the tree, even to the point of feeling himself forsaken of God.
Why did Christ cried out “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Because, at that time the sins of all mankind were upon Him, and their iniquities and transgressions, with which He was wounded; which He was to bear, and to be an offering for them, as He was man, but died not as He was God. And so in that He died for all men, and tasted death for every man, He was all offering for the sins of the whole world.
Before we finish considering Christmas Present, have you considered what will be your Christmas Present to the One whose birthday it is all about? Make sure He gets the best, make sure and spend the most. Give of yourself fully to God your saviour.
3. CHRISTMAS FUTURE, THE CROWN: The glorious climax of Christmas, remember His soon return. 1 Corinthians 11:26 “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.”
Did three words ever tell more “till He comes.”? Jesus spoke of His coming kingdom. He who came into the world will take us out of the world before the coming judgment!
The Last Supper was not really the last! For the next supper is the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, and the table is already being set!
Revelation 19:7-10 “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: 'Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!‘”
And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
Here we stand before the supreme mystery. Bethlehem and Calvary are fundamentally connected; the Cradle involves the Cross, and the Cross illumines the Cradle. This is the heart of the Christmas experience and the Christmas message. The stable is where it all started, He who was born to die, but does not stop there, He died that we might live, and He rose to make it possible!
Living He loved me, dying He saved me, buried He carried my sins far away, rising He justified, freely forever, and one day He’s coming, Oh glorious day!