Summary: What is the connection between the Creche and the Cross... between Christ’s birth and his death. Andy why do we have to talk about Christ’s death at the time of his birth? (This sermon was preached in parts with Jason Lundy doing Part II)
Our text today is Colossians 2:9, 13-15. Did you notice that Colossians 2:9 celebrates the wonderful reality of Christmas: in coming to earth Jesus was “the fullness of Godhead in bodily form…” That is Christmas theology at its best. But, just a few verses later in vv. 13-15, it talks about Jesus’ death.
So, let me begin by asking you: Which is the most important holiday for a Christian? It is Christmas, Good Friday or Easter? Is it more important for a Christian to celebrate Jesus’ birth… or his death… or his resurrection from the dead?
And here is related question: Which is a more visible symbol of the mission of Jesus Christ: a Crèche or a Cross? You may know that the word crèche is a French word for a nativity scene which often shows Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus, the stable animals, the Shepherds and sometimes the Magi. It is a vivid representation of Jesus’ birth.
So, you might be asking, “Where does the Cross fit into Christmas?” Or you might be wondering, “It is really appropriate to have the Cross (a symbol of Jesus’ death) next to the crèche (a symbol of his birth)?” And I know that some of you might even be arguing with me in your mind right now, “Can’t we just celebrate Christmas and leave Good Friday until next April?”
One of the Christmas traditions I remember as a child was setting up the nativity scene or crèche in our home. As a youngster, I even remember playing with the set, pretending that I was one of the Shepherds or something like that. But, we had one rule in our household: you couldn’t put the figure of the baby Jesus into the manger until Christmas Eve. That was our way of reminding ourselves that the coming of Jesus was what the scene was all about.
But, I am pretty certain that if someone had asked me back then, “Why was Jesus born into the world?” that I couldn’t have given them a very good answer. How about you? In your own mind, can you answer that: Why Jesus was born?
Today, as we try to answer that question for you Jason and I will suggest to you that is exactly why Christmas and the Cross intersect.
You see there is a danger in putting up a crèche and forgetting about the Cross… there is a danger in celebrating Christmas with the Cross.
Jesus warned us about separating Christmas and the Cross…
The NT writers warned us against separating Christmas and the Cross…
And preachers need to also remind us not to separate the Cross from Christmas. The late Pastor James Montgomery Boice of the Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia said in one of his Christmas sermons, “We focus so much on the birth of the baby and on the sentiment that goes with that story—and there is a certain amount of legitimate sentiment that goes with it—that we miss the most important things. Actually, the story is treated quite simply in Scripture, and the emphasis is always on the fact that Jesus came to DIE_________________________. The Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, took a human body in order that He might die for our salvation… We miss the most important thing about Christmas if we fail to see that.”