Saturday, March 10, 2018

Don't leave the Baby in the manger or the Man on the cross

When Christmas comes around, everyone loves the thought of the baby in the manger. The story is so precious, and the swaddling cloths, and the animals milling around, and the Shepherds who came to see...

So cute!

But not cute.

This Grace To You essay brings the point home.
What do you think about when you see a nativity scene? We might recognize the baby in the manger as God in flesh. But seeing Christ as a helpless and vulnerable infant can delude us into thinking that the humility of the incarnation was not isolated to His physical form—that somehow, His deity was also diminished.
And it’s easy to read the birth narratives in the gospel accounts without gaining a full sense of Christ’s eternal glory and supremacy. Those attributes figure more prominently at the end of His earthly sojourn rather than the beginning.

Where can we see that glory and supremacy? Is it on the cross? The Man-God hung on that tree, he was perfect in every way yet absorbing all God's wrath for sin, separated from His eternal father for agonizing hours. He was the suffering servant, bleeding and wounded and humble, and scorned and rejected. He hung there...

But He is not still there.

We look to Jesus when we want to praise or seek comfort, and we often think of the cross. The cross is the symbol of death, new life, eternity. We respect the cross as the execution method of what Jesus suffered for us in obedience to the Father. The cross is everything to us, but it is not all.

Because Jesus rose.

So the bloody, unrecognizable fleshly Man is not still on the cross. He is in heaven, robed majestically, at the right hand of the Father, ministering as KING OF THE UNIVERSE!

12Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. (Revelation 1:12-16)

Don't leave the baby in the manger or the man upon the cross. When you think of Jesus daily, remember Him as He is now.



6 comments:

  1. Amen, amen. I've thought about this many times. And no longer put out a nativity at Christmas for this reason. Too often our thinking can be shallow and based on man's understanding rather than scripture. It's so easy to lose the right perspective and create a "Christ" in our minds that isn't the biblical Jesus. The baby Jesus or the helpless Jesus on the cross are a lot less threatening than King Jesus on the throne reigning in majesty and power. Perhaps this is one reason why the Lord does not want us to make or worship statues or idols. They will always fall short of the reality.

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  2. That is contradictory to St.Paul who clearly wanted the church in Corinth to truly confess and focus on Christ and him crucified for their sins!

    Beginning in the 1 letter to Corinth 1:18, and ending in chapter 2:2 with this « And I, when I came to you, brothers,[a] did not come proclaiming to you the testimony[b] of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.».. then which is is? What did Paul commend them to remember? The man on the cross or as he is now?

    The devil wants us to remember anything about Jesus so long as it leaves the cross diminished or out, whether that be focusing on the glory or wrath or power of God it does not matter. When you think of Jesus daily, remembering him as he is, is nothing better than being a pagan thinking about Jesus.

    But remembering him daily that he hung on that cross for us is exactly what we should do and is exactly what Paul reminds the church of Corinth to do. What else do you go to church for other than hearing about you recieving the forgiveness of sins won for you by Jesus Christ on the cross?


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    Replies
    1. Hello b,

      I'm sorry I wrote it in such a way as to leave confusion.

      My piece was not intended to leave the impression that we should never contemplate Jesus in the manger, or never to contemplate Jesus on the cross.

      It was to remind us that there is yet another aspect to Him, which is as He is now, as per the verses above, a Jesus we rarely discuss or proclaim.

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    2. Hi

      Then you should really rephrase your last sentence, because it sets a tone that tells me otherwise.

      Remember that Jesus as He is now, still has the scars of the cross on His body! In the anger of Paul when he wrote to the Galatians, what provoked him so much, was not that they did not mention Jesus. Quite on the contrary, all is implied that Jesus is still preached, but not the one who was put in the manger and hung on the cross for the sake of saving evil mankind!

      The glory of Jesus is exactly that which is the opposite of the world. Its not about His infinite power, nor is radiant and awesome majesty, all things even the world understands to be glorious, but it is this; That the everlasting beloved Son of God, always in perfect love and communication with the Father, went on the cross and humbled himself beyond our fathom so that He could save us. All at the same time knowing that He never had a need for us.

      Anyone can preach Jesus as He is now, liberal churches generally, new age groups especially, but preaching Christ crucified for our sins and risen again on the third day, thats what St.Paul wanted to hear! Thats the gospel!

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    3. Hi b,

      Yes, that is the Gospel. However, Jesus told us much about His second coming. He spent a lot of time explaining it, and the Apostles spent much ink writing what the Spirit inspired them to say about the next time the world sees Jesus. It will not be as a baby in the manger, nor will it be the suffering servant on the cross. It will be the Man-God whose "eyes were like a flame of fire, 15his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters!"

      That is the Jesus the world will see next. It is good to be reminded of this. Which is what this essay is about. Thanks again for your comments.

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  3. Elizabeth, that is quite true, we are told a lot about Christ as He is now in scripture, and the glory in which He will return. Of course we never want to forget His death, burial and resurrection. We remember it every time we take communion. Yet, even with that, Paul tells us that we proclaim the Lord's death until He comes ( see 1 Cor 11:26) I beg to differ with b who thinks that the exalted Christ is what is taught by the liberals & the New Age. Well, not exactly. I sincerely doubt that they believe in or want to think about the exalted Lord Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, ruling and reigning over all things!

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