THE CRADLE, THE CROSS,
& THE CROWN
Lk. 2:6-7; Isa. 9:6
1. Q: What’s the difference between the Christmas alphabet and the ordinary alphabet? A: The Christmas alphabet has Noel.
2. Q: What do you call people who are afraid of Santa Claus? A: Claustrophobic.
3. Q: What do you call an obnoxious reindeer? RUDEolph.
4. Q: What nationality is Santa Claus? A: North Polish.
5. Q: What do you call a kid who doesn't believe in Santa? A rebel without a Claus.
6. Q: What do you call Santa's helpers? A: Subordinate clauses.
“While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” “For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called ‘Wonderful Counselor,’ ‘Mighty God,’ ‘Everlasting Father,’ ‘Prince of Peace.’” Lk. 2:6-7, NASB; Isa. 9:6, NIV.
1. Three great milestones mark the life of Jesus Christ: His Incarnation, His Sacrifice, and His Resurrection/Ascension.
2. These three are symbolized by “The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown.”
I. THE CRADLE SPEAKS OF HIS HUMBLE BIRTH
A. JOURNEY TO BETHLEHEM
1. Imagine Mary (think of your wife or your daughter), She was nine months pregnant, at the very point of birth, swollen and aching all over.
2. She had to travel 70 miles – on a donkey’s back! It took at least three days. Up and down mountains and ravines; cold and hot; with bandits and wild animals all around. It was nothing like a comfortable car ride.
3. Then Mary's birth pains began. Joseph knocked on every door in town, but everywhere he went, there was a "no vacancy" sign up.
4. Joseph must have thought, "Could I have been mistaken? Did the angel really say this baby would be the "Son of God?" Where is God now?”
5. There was no antiseptic room, no comfortable bed; no incubator, no competent doctors and nurses -- only a cold, dark cave with some hay. What a disappointment; what a desperate situation!
6. When was the last time you heard of a donkey born in a palace, in the King’s bedroom? That’s preposterous! Kings are born in palaces; donkeys are born in stables. Yet God allowed His Son – the King of Kings – to be born in a lowly stable.
7. Why? Because He wanted everyone to know they could come to the Savior. The Poor of the World would feel unworthy to enter a palace, but all would feel welcome in a barn!
B. WHO WAS THIS CHILD?
1. Though humble at birth, this Child was the Architect of the universe and He fashioned the sun and heated it to 35,000,000°F to govern the day, and molded a cold, shining ball 2,160 miles in diameter to govern the night.
2. He also made the stars -- 100 billion of them in the Milky Way and hundreds of billions more in 100 million other galaxies. JESUS! He spoke six sextillion, 588 quintillion short-tons of elements into existence and called it Earth. Then He set its footing and "laid its cornerstone -- while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy" (Job 38:6-7).
3. He shut up 132,000,000 square miles of seas behind their doors. He entered the storehouses of the snow and hail and went to the places where lightning is dispersed and the East winds are scattered over the Earth.
4. Then one day this Almighty God compressed Himself down to a divine cell and fused it with the ovum of a Jewish teenager. Again and again the God-cells divided and the holy fetus grew. [Dan Betzer]
5. At last the moment of truth came and the Holy Child was born, to the singing of thousands of joyful Angels.
6. And they called his name, "Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."
II. THE CROSS SPEAKS OF HIS VICTORIOUS DEATH
A. METHOD OF HIS VICTORY OVER SIN
1. 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 shadow of the Cross was over Bethlehem’s stable, the Nazareth carpenter shop, over the Upper Room, & the Garden of Gethsemane.
2. The Cross was the cruelest instrument of death known to man. It symbolized man’s depravity and inhumanity to his fellow-man. Suspended between heaven and earth, the victim of the Cross waited helplessly for death.
3. There was only one way to come down from the cross – by the hands of grave-diggers. When the nails were driven into the hands and feet, it was as though the icy hands of death had clutched its victim, and the life was slowly, excruciatingly drained.
4. There was horror associated with the cross: the ripping of the skin; the bursting of the arteries; the severing of the nerves would bring torment almost unfathomable by those here today.
5. Yet, Jesus, God’s Son was born under the shadow of the Cross! It loomed before Him as His greatest exploit. All the challenges of His life would wane in significance when compared to the challenge of the Cross.
6. It was my sins which caused Jesus Christ to be crucified. It was your sins that nailed Him to the Tree. “He paid a debt He did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay – I needed someone to wash my sins away!” And so do you!
7. I doubt we’ll ever fully understand the awfulness of Christ’s crucifixion, but I hope that God will help us see it a little clearer.
B. JESUS DEFEATED THE DEVIL
1. When Jesus was dying He cried aloud “It is finished!” - the Greek word “tetelestai” - which was often stamped on ancient tax documents and meant “Paid in full!” He had finished the work of redemption.
2. Paul said, “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” Col. 2:15. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He also meant it was finished for the devil! The Cross defeated Satan’s power.
a. Carl Amerding recounted his experience of watching a large wildcat at the zoo. “As I stood there,” he said, “an attendant entered the cage. He had nothing in his hands but a broom.
b. Carefully closing the door, he proceeded to sweep the floor of the cage. When he got to the corner where the wildcat was lying, he poked the animal with the broom. It let off a wild cry, stood and hissed, and at last moved to a different corner of the cage and lay back down.
c. Carl remarked to the attendant, “You are certainly a brave man!” “No, I’m not brave.” “Then the wildcat must be tamed.” “No, he ain’t tame.”
d. “Then if you’re not brave and he’s not tame, I can’t understand why he doesn’t attack you.” The attendant chuckled and said, “Mister, he’s old – and he ain’t got no teeth anymore!” [Moody Monthly]
e. Church, Jesus has not only redeemed us, he’s disarmed the principalities and powers! Hallelujah!
III. THE CROWN SPEAKS OF HIS TRIUMPHANT REIGN
A. DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHERE JESUS IS NOW?
1. The Bible tells us that the Child of Bethlehem isn’t in the manger anymore. He’s NOT in the carpenter shop, or out healing the sick or preaching the Gospel to the poor. He’s NOT on the cross, though many statues depict Him that way and He’s NOT in the tomb, though atheists and doubters wish He were.
2. Our Jesus is RISEN from the dead and is ALIVE forevermore! He has ASCENDED up to the Right Hand of the Father and REIGNS supreme over the universe. But that’s not the end of the story.
3. JOHN SAW JESUS COMING TO SET UP HIS KGDM ON EARTH! “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: ‘KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.’” Rev. 19:11-16.
4. You see, Jesus went from wearing a crown of thorns to wearing a Crown of Glory!
B. JESUS WILL REIGN 1,000 YEARS ON EARTH!
1. “[The martyrs] came to life….The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him[Christ] for a thousand years.” Rev. 20:4,6. During the Millennium, King Jesus will rule and reign with a rod of iron. He’ll no longer be the humble carpenter of Nazareth; He’ll be the majestic King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! Every knee will bow and every tongue confess His Lordship!
2. But that’s still not all! This "Author of Life"(Acts 3:15) who has "the power of an indestructible life" Heb. 7:16 “will swallow up death forever” Isa. 25:7-8.
3. Then God “will create a new heavens and a new earth” (Isa. 66:17; 2 Pet. 3:13) without sin and destroy this old fallen universe. Praise God! 1 Cor. 15:54 says, "Death is swallowed up of Life…!"
1. There is a play that asks the question, "What did Joseph do the day AFTER Christ was born?" It’s an interesting question. Of course, he helped with Mary & the baby; he did everything he could to make things as comfortable for them as possible.
2. The play imagines that since Joseph was a carpenter, that he began making a crib for Jesus. And as he did, he thought deeply about how the Messiah was denied even a room at the Inn to be born in.
3. Joseph ends up saying to himself, "If they treated Him like this when He is just a baby, how will they treat Him when they find out He is the Son of God?"
4. About that time in the play, the lights suddenly go off, and all you can hear is the hammer hitting against the wood. (Pause)
5. How would they treat Him when they found out He was the Son of God? They would nail Him to a cross, but that’s why God sent Him – to give His life for your sins & for mine!
B. THE CALL
1. How many of you want to treat Him differently? How many of you want to love Him, and give Him the honor due Him?
2. Let’s stand and praise the King of Glory for humbling Himself to be born in a stable, for giving His life on the cruel cross, and for rising from the dead to save us. PRAYER.
[Section II.A. was adapted from Richard Deem’s 2001 sermon, "The Cradle, The Cross and The Crown."]