Righteousness Through Christ By Nathele Graham “As it is written, There is none righteous, no,…
Born in a Manger, Crucified on a Cross
By Nathele Graham
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” – (Romans 6:23).
Holidays come and go, and we mostly follow traditions without thinking of what they are truly about. For instance, Christmas comes around, and we get into a gift-buying frenzy. We decorate our houses with trees and ornaments and put lights on the outside of our homes and city streets. We sing Christmas songs like “Deck the Halls” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and obey the secular humanists by being very careful not to say Merry Christmas. I, for one, like to say “Merry Christmas” because my Saviour was born, and that’s what I celebrate. School children and teachers have a two-week vacation for “winter break.” When I was growing up, it was called Christmas Vacation.
We easily forget our Lord and Saviour, who stepped into His creation to offer salvation to lost and sinful people who are dead in their sins. Sadly, many Christians fail to honor Him by celebrating His birth. It’s just a busy time of year filled with baking candy and cookies and buying gifts for family, friends, and casual acquaintances so we don’t slight anybody. There’s nothing wrong with these traditions as long as they don’t replace Christ.
“For unto us a child is born unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this” – (Isaiah 9: 6-7).
We read that on many Christmas Cards but seldom stop and really think about what it means. That’s quite a responsibility to be put upon a tiny baby, but Jesus Christ was willing. Jesus was the one who spoke all things into existence. The Apostle John describes Him as “the Word.”
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men” – (John 1:1-4).
John lets us know that Jesus was God and that He created everything. This refers back to Genesis chapter 1, where God spoke and all things were created. God loves His creation, even though we treat Him casually.
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” – (John 1:14).
It would have been wonderful to be one of those Jewish men and women who walked with Jesus, heard His teaching, and believed His words. Today we have the writings of some who followed Jesus and know that their words were given to them directly by the Holy Spirit. Scripture is God’s truth. That baby boy born in a manger in Bethlehem fulfilled hundreds of prophecies. Because of Him, the entire world was changed.
Jesus, God in the flesh, was humbly born in a manger. Probably in the fields which Boaz (a picture-type of Jesus) owned and where he met Ruth (whom he took for a Gentile bride) and became the kinsman redeemer for Naomi (a Jewish widow). Read about these people in the Book of Ruth. Angels proclaimed Jesus’ birth to shepherds who were tending to the sheep that would be used in the Temple for sacrifices. About 30 years later, John the Baptist would see Jesus walking toward him.
“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” – (John 1:29).
John the Baptist was a part of the Essenes, and from the Dead Sea Scrolls, we know that these people studied prophecy. John was one who was looking for the Messiah and therefore recognized Jesus as the Lamb of God. Perhaps we need to study prophecy more.
If you stop and really think about God, who lives in Heaven, surrounded by love and praise, choosing to confine Himself to a human body, being fully God and fully human, and knowing that He was born to be the sacrificial lamb and shed His blood in order to bring salvation to humanity who were dead in sin, you will be very humbled. He grew from a baby and experienced the same skinned knees and temptations as anybody. He had to learn to take those first baby steps before He could walk on water. What wondrous and amazing love He showed by becoming a part of His creation.
When Adam chose to disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit, all of creation fell, and death became reality. The separation of man from God was a choice Adam made. That separation can only be bridged by faith in Jesus Christ. Adam sinned, but God’s love never died. God is just, and Adam knew the penalty of his action. God had told Adam that by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, he would die. Adam ate it anyway, and death affected all of creation. God expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Still, God’s mercy was shown to them.
“Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them” – (Genesis 3:21).
In order to make coats of skins, blood had to be shed. Today, God’s word reveals that the only way to bridge the separation from God is by placing your faith in the shed blood of Jesus on the cross.
God demonstrated that blood had to be shed in order to cover sin. Thus, the example of sacrifice for sin. After Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden, they began having children. First Cain, then Abel. These two boys grew and had to make their own sacrifices to cover their sin.
“And in the process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD” – (Genesis 4:3).
It seems as if Cain didn’t care much about God’s ways and did what was easiest for him. That’s never a good choice. On the other hand, Abel was obedient.
“And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell” – (Genesis 4:4-5).
Does this describe you? Do you give the least you can to God and expect Him to bless you? Maybe you need to honor God by your sacrifices rather than doing as little as possible to honor Him. Cain was very unhappy and directed his rage toward his brother and killed him. Shedding his brother’s blood was sin and was never an acceptable blood sacrifice. God does not require human blood to be shed. Except in one specific sacrifice: the blood shed by Jesus on the cross. Other than that, shedding human blood, whether in the womb or not, is sin.
As time passed, after Adams’ sin, God first called Abraham out of his pagan life, and he became the father of the Jewish nation… God’s chosen people. Through this nation, the world would be blessed. God gave them the Law. That law included animal sacrifices to cover sin. Those sacrifices could never take sin away.
“But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” – (Hebrews 10:2-3).
The Jewish Law also provided for a kinsman redeemer. If a person lost something of value, then a near kinsman was able to redeem it. That kinsman had to be willing. Adam sinned, and paradise was lost for all of creation. Jesus Christ, God incarnate, was conceived by the Holy Spirit, so He was fully God. Therefore, His blood was not tainted by Adam’s sin. He was also fully human since His mother Mary was merely a human woman, not a goddess or in any way anything but human. She was willing to do all she could to serve God. Christ willingly entered His creation knowing that He would shed His blood to take our sin away.
As we prepare to celebrate Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, consider how you honor Him. “Easter” is a pagan celebration based upon astrological positions of the sun and moon. The pagan celebration was all about fertility, represented by rabbits and eggs. These things have nothing to do with God’s sacrifice and His victory over death. As you hide colored eggs and eat chocolate bunnies, be sure to share the Gospel. What is that Gospel? The Apostle Paul spells it out.
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” – (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Eggs and bunnies won’t bring you salvation, only faith in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. He was born in a manger and crucified on a cross.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16-17).
God bless you all,
All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God-breathed.
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