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Looking Beyond the Manger at Christmas

Looking Beyond the Manger at Christmas

In a time full of strife, division and isolation, it might be hard to stop and remember what Christmas is all about. While Christmas is a day created by man to celebrate the birth of Christ, many have replaced the day’s meaning with the decorations, gifts and parties that typically accompany this time of year. However, the holiday season is a unique opportunity for Christians to point past the nativity scene to the rest of the story of Christ. While the manger might be where the earthly story of Jesus begins, it isn’t where his story begins or ends. 

God in the beginning 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-2, 14 NIV) 

Jesus, who was with God in the beginning, was made a “little lower than the angels for a little while” when he took on flesh to become a baby born in Bethlehem (Hebrews 2:9). He came down from heaven to take on the form of a man, full of grace and truth for the world. Understanding how God and Jesus have always existed is a difficult task, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. God is called the “Alpha and the Omega” (Revelation 22:13). He is the beginning and end — the first and last. He spoke the earth and time into existence. Jesus confirms his divine nature and eternal existence in John 8:58 (NIV) when he says, “Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I am!” Our faith in the one true God of the universe allows us to acknowledge that his ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). 

God becomes man 

The birth of Jesus fulfills all the prophecies from the prophets in the Old Testament, including Isaiah 7:14. “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means ‘God with us’).” Before he was placed in the manger, Jesus was, and he continues to be today. His birth was just the beginning of the good news of the gospel. The Apostle Paul sums up the eternal nature of Jesus, the purpose of his birth and the hope found in the gospel in 2 Timothy 1:9-10 (NIV). 

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” 

God made a way 

Jesus taking the form of a man revealed his grace to us. His sinless life (2 Corinthians 5:21), unjust death on the cross, and resurrection three days later (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) made a way for believers in Christ to have eternal life with him. The just reward for our sin is death, but have the hope of eternity because of Christ (Romans 6:23). 

Without a baby born to a virgin and placed in a manger, we are lost. Without his sinless life, there is no sacrifice worthy of the sins of the world (1 John 2:2). Without Christ, there is only a path to death. Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life” and the only way to God (John 14:6). The birth, death and resurrection of Jesus created the narrow gate to life (Matthew 7:13-14). 

Anyone who believes in Christ can have eternal life (John 3:16). This is why Jesus came to earth. He loves us enough that, even while we were sinners, he came to earth, lived the perfect life, and died for us (Romans 5:8). It’s about more than believing the story of Christmas. It’s about believing the story of the entire gospel. We believe in more than his birth. We believe in his life, death and resurrection. His triumph over death means we have life, and that’s something worth celebrating every day of the year.

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