Summary: We should insist on acknowledging and honoring Christ in the way He has directed us in His word, not in a way that men determine for themselves.
Many people today are celebrating the birthday of Jesus. Most religious groups will have some observance of Christmas, commonly held to be the day Christ was born. And yet, there are some churches that have their doors closed this Sunday morning. We are not doing so here because we have no divine record of when Christ was born and no authority from Christ to celebrate His birth; we’re simply, ”remembering the Sabbath day and keeping it holy.” But I guess, we can be glad that many people in the world at least acknowledge Christ in some way on this day.
However, we should insist on acknowledging and honoring Christ in the way He has directed us in His word, not in a way that men determine for themselves. It seems to me that the mistake of this day is not only presuming to act where God has been silent but also the world’s willingness to think about the baby in the manger while refusing to come to grips with the Savior on the cross. I ask simply, where does God place His emphasis in Scripture?
We must not overlook the most fundamental question: What is it that God wants us to think about today? Well, it’s more than “Away in a Manger.”
The earthly ministry of Jesus Christ can be divided into 3 stages, "The Cradle, The Cross and The Crown"!
I. The Cradle.
Not don’t misunderstand me, the birth of Jesus was a grand occasion of great importance. Though Jesus authorized no special observance of His birth and consequently we do not presume to observe it, I would want to say nothing that would detract from the tremendous importance of the birth of the Son of God as a man. Jesus’ birth by a virgin made possible the incarnation—
"God becoming man" and it was indeed good news announced by angels: "For behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Lk. 2:10-11). His name would be Jesus, "for it is He who will save His people from their sins" (Mat. 1:21).
Jesus was born the God-man that He might be a man in every sense of the word. His birth was a voluntary act of abnegation, in which the Son of glory "did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond servant, and being made in the likeness of men" (Phil. 2:6-7). Carefully consider what the words of our text are saying about Jesus’ birth. They are, of course, saying something about the birth of the Son of God by a virgin. In this remarkable event, God became man, and it was good news of a great joy for all people! God was praised and the opportunity for peace was announced to the world.
But did you notice that in each statement there is a reference to Jesus’ death? The child born is "for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Lk. 2:11), "it is He who will save His people from their sins" (Mat. 1:21), and "being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Phil. 2:8).
The incarnation is important and essential, but its importance is found in the fact that it made possible the sinless life and substitutionary death of Christ on the cross.
There is a divine record in Scripture of the birth of Jesus, and this event may legitimately be a matter of interest and emphasis. But when we consider Scripture as a whole, the balance of God’s message to man pertains to the crucifixion and resurrection, not the incarnation. Even the records about the manger direct our attention to the cross.
II. The Cross.
Jesus was born with the shadow of the cross upon Him. With the shadow of the Cross upon His heart He learned to walk, He learned to talk, He learned to work.
The Cross was the cruelest instrument of death known to man. It showed the depths of man’s depravity and inhumanity to his fellow-man. Suspended between heaven and earth, the victim of the Cross waited helplessly for death. After a matter of hours on the cross, the victim would look forward to the arrival of death, in order to relieve him of his awful pain and suffering.
Such helplessness is associated with the cross. No-one there to pat your head or cool your brow. Many a mothers looked on in stark horror as their son suffered the inhumanities of the Roman cross.
As they writhed in pain and called out for their mother’s touch, but to no avail.