Summary: The choice remains the same whether standing at the manger or standing at the cross.
I. Here we are, quickly approaching the manger. I know we must be, I saw the stores in San Angelo, TX jam packed yesterday. Consumer confidence must be higher than the news is reporting. All this hustle and bustle to get to the manger. We seem to come here every year. Same place beside the manger where we were last year on the 3rd Sunday of Advent, or the 4th or even Christmas Eve. Arriving at the Manger with the children presenting Christmas pagents, or with the Shepeherds to herald the child’s birth. Or arriving at the manger with the wise men bearing gifts. Same story. Same place. Same manger. Same stall. Sam "oxen lowing, little knowing" same "angels singing, noels
ringing, tidings bringing" (1). Bringing us here to the manger, to see the child for ourselves.
And when we look into the manger; be it the manger of faith, we have to ask and answer for ourselves a question that even John the Baptist asked. We
have to search the manger for the meaning of life; to search the straw lined manger, for the silver lining of life to discover from the simple nativity
setting, what is perhaps the most complex understanding, that born is the Son of God, the Savior of the world. Emmanuel, "God with us!"
Perhaps everyone searches for the meaning of life, even if it doesn’t bring them near the manger. (2) In a Peanuts comic strip Lucy is speaking with
Linus at the base of a hill. She says, "Someday I’m going over that hill and find the answer to my dreams.... Someday I’m going over that hill and find
hope and fulfillment. I think, for me, all the answers to life lie beyond these clouds and over the grassy slopes of that hill!"
Linus removes his thumb from his mouth, points toward the hill, and responds: "Perhaps there’s another little kid on the other side of that hill who is looking this way and thinking that all the answers to life lie on this side of the hill." Lucy looks at Linus, then turns toward the hill and yells, "Forget it, kid!"
II. Matthew 11 is a rare glimpse into the relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist. Cosuins by birth. John had already baptized Jesus. Seen the heavnes parted, heard the voice of God, seen the Spirit of God
descending upon Jesus, and yet he sends his disciples to ask if Jesus is the One? (2) "Why in the world did John the Baptist question if Jesus was the one? ...You have to wonder, however, what could make a man forget that Jesus was the Christ. That seems pretty unforgettable!
Yet we all seem to have moments of doubt. Moments in which we stand at the side of the manger and wonder if this child can truly be a King! And it is when we stand at the Manger we have to answer for ourselves "Is this the One?" "Is this the Messiah"? O its a lot easier when He is on the cross. When we have said He has gone there to take away our sins! But either at the
manger or the cross, the question is the same: Is Jesus the One? Is Jesus the Lord of your life? Is Jesus the Messiah, the Savior? Your Savior? The
Savior of the world? It is the question you have to stand by the manger and answer!
III. "H. A. Williams, one of the leading preachers and theologians of the Church of England, titled his autobiography, "Someday I’ll Find You." That
may seem like an unusual title for an autobiography, but if you read the book, ... it begins to make sense. You see, there was a period in Dr. Williams’ life when he was almost totally incapacitated by phobic anxieties. He was afraid to go into the streets and marketplaces, afraid of elevators and escalators, afraid to ride on trains or buses or subways, afraid of
flying – you name it, he was afraid of it!" No doubt, fear and doubt have kept many from realizing that Jesus is the One.
"Such was the case with John the Baptizer. His question —"Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?"— grew not out of his uncertainty,
but out of his doubt. John the Baptizer had heard about the words and deeds of Jesus, but what he had heard did not square with his expectation of the
Messiah. After all, Jesus was born not to royalty, but to a peasant woman. He functioned not as a military ruler, but as a servant. He came not as a judge, but as a forgiving redeemer. He did not bring heavenly condemnation; he brought divine love. He did not associate with the religious establishment, but he went from village to village associating with the