Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Jesus in the manger: a compare and contrast exercise

I published this on December 16 but I'm publishing it again this morning, a holy morning when we gladly honor the Savior who came to put away sin, and honor the Him who was and is and is to come.
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It is the season of the baby Jesus. We love to think of Him as the innocent babe in swaddling clothes, his parents Mary and Joseph (and God) looking down on the sleeping baby. It is a scene of peace.

But we can't be glad about the babe in the manger unless we remember that without the babe we are living a life of corruption, wrath and death. He was born to save us from it. That juxtaposition is just as as startling as the fact of Messiah's bursting in from glory to live in depravity on our behalf.

In my mind, I think of these examples that are equally a juxtaposition. From His humble beginnings, He was born and laid in swaddling clothes amid the hay of the stable. The vision of the hay strewn around evokes the hay that will be burned up on His day.

"Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire." (1 Cor 3:12).

Hay is only temporary. It's fodder for animals, stuffing in log cabin cracks, filler for brickmakers. Hay doesn't last. Yet Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." (Matthew 24:25).

The babe was laid in another man's barn, bearing witness to the fact that the Son of Man has no place to lay His head. "And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head."  (Luke 9:58).


He didn't have a place to lay His head when He was born, and He didn't have His own place to lay His broken body to rest when He died. Jesus was buried in another man's tomb.


"When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away." (Matthew 27:57-60).

Jesus left His home to live homeless, in order to give us HIS home. We have a place to lay our head: a place in heaven Jesus is preparing for us. It is called New Jerusalem. (Revelation 21:2)

Jesus came from holy glory and was pure. Yet His life began amid the dung of the animals. This evokes Him coming from sinlessness of heaven to the depraved corruption of earth and all that is in it. Isaiah said our works are like filthy menstrual rags (Is 64:6). Paul said our life apart from Christ is rubbish (garbage) (Phil 3:8). His perfect and glorious soul inside a baby's body was laid down amid all that corruption.

From the moment of His birth, the contrast between Himself in eternal life, and our death and destruction apart from Him was made clear. He is so Great!

Source
He came down so that, "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32)

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