Thursday, December 16, 2010

In the shadow of the Cross

As I reflect on Christmas this year I find myself saying something over and over. I say something like, "Let's remember the manger was in the shadow of the cross." 

I'm not sure where I picked that up. But what I mean by that is that Jesus' entire life was lived in the shadow of the approaching cross he would die on...the cross he would choose to die on out of love for his Father. Love expressed in unconditional obedience that moved him to surrender to life to that cruel instrument of torture. He was born to die. The manger was in the shadow of the cross.

Chris Tomlin writes in verse 2 of his song "Born That We May Have Life" (emphasis mine):

A throne in a manger a cross in a cradle
The hidden revealing this glorious plan
Of the Child who would suffer
The Child who would conquer
The sin of ev'ry woman the sin of ev'ry man

We want a nice, clean Christmas experience. We want baby Jesus and a nice, clean, warm stable. Not a shiver of cold or any barnyard smells. We don't want suffering in our story--just the good stuff. We want love, peace and joy to be the message. And it is! But we don't like to think about the price that love, peace and joy cost to give us. That raises guilt and feelings of unworthiness. 

My point isn't to raise more guilt in you. It's to raise up gratitude in you. It's to remind you that even at this time of year the cross is everywhere--and it should be. And Jesus wanted us to remember too, didn't he.

"And (Jesus) took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." -Luke 22:19-20

So what? Always a great question.

Perhaps you or someone you know is suffering this Christmas season. It's easy to see that and question God's love, isn't it? I mean, what kind of God allows his children to suffer...and then it hits you. The same kind of God that sends his son to suffer...for the blessing and salvation of the entire world. 

So as you sit by the fire drinking your hot chocolate looking at the Christmas lights and enjoying music in the background remember at least one thing: the manger Jesus lay in was in the shadow of the cross.

Born That We May Have Life
CCLI Song No. 5601839
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