Reflections from The Cradle, Cross and Crown
During December we’ve been reading the advent study, The Cradle, Cross and Crown by Billy Graham. These are three great symbols of Christmas: the cradle of the baby Jesus, the cross of Jesus, and the crown Jesus wears as he sits at the right hand of God. All three are inextricably linked together and yet most of the time, we don't think about it this way.
Many see the cradle or the manger as a symbol of Christmas. The cradle was the beginning, but it was not the whole story. The Bible tells us that Mary and Joseph made the first bed of Jesus in a manger, but even that manger scene as they swaddled the baby Jesus tells the story of sacrifice.
Surrounding Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus were animals that were used as sacrifices in the temple. The hay around the manger had to be sacrificed, it had to die and it had to be cut as food that those animals could be fed and nourished. Everything spoke of sacrifice surrounding the birth of Jesus. Everything spoke of the fact that this unique, one of a kind baby was born for a purpose - And we see it all in Isaiah 9:6-7 (NIV).
6 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.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
Just think, 700 years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the prophet Isaiah predicted exactly HOW Jesus would come and the SIGNIFICANCE of his coming. Jesus was born in a humble manger to common parents. Common, that is by human standards. While the birth of a child would normally be cause for great rejoicing, the joy this birth would bring is to be short lived. For you see, this child was born to die.
From the cradle to the cross, Jesus lived the life we cannot live. Jesus was tempted, just as we are, and yet He never sinned. He lived every minute of His life in accordance with the will of the one who sent Him—God His Father— and then Jesus willingly and purposefully went to the cross. He took upon Himself our sins and paid the price of redeeming us with His own blood. In the cross of Jesus, we see the symbol of our faith, the sorrow of our sins and the sacrifice of our Savior.
The cross was not the end --- it was only the beginning! At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in the earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. The Crown shows what is going to come.
The crown represents the Lord’s rule and reign as King throughout all eternity and it represents the glory he received by completing the mission for which God sent Him. I think the crown represents who Jesus is! He is holy, perfect and just, and from Him flows love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Jesus was the central theme of that first Christmas. The star, the song, the gifts, the joy, the hope, the excitement- all were because of Him. This is God’s gift of Christmas, and every day:
the cradle, His Son;
the cross, His life;
the crown, His coming Kingdom.
But…a gift, to be complete, must be received! Will you receive it?