Each week of the Advent Season we have highlighted the theme: “Christmas, It’s About the Cross.” But, it occurs to me that linking a person’s birth with his death is something that is done only in obituaries or eulogies. However, with regard to the Christ, pulling the two events together in one sentence seems appropriate, for, as you may recall from week one, I quoted from Max Lucado’s book, The Cross: “He [the Christ Child] was born crucified. Whenever He became conscious of who He was, He also became conscious of what He had to do.” His birth and his death were linked from the moment of His conception.
If you were to examine the various characters and ingredients in the nativity story, you might discover that every element speaks of the distinctiveness of that Baby born in a stable and His God-ordained mission on Planet Earth. Let’s look at a few of them.
Bethlehem: Why this small town? Why not Jerusalem or one of the other outlying villages? It was no coincidence that this hamlet became the place of Christ’s birth, for hundreds of years earlier, the prophet Micah (5:2) spoke these words: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel; Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”
Besides the prophetic evidence, the Hebrew word Bethlehem actually means “House of Bread.” During His early ministry, soon after the feeding of the 5000, Jesus declared Himself to be the Bread of Life: “he that cometh to Me shall never hunger,” He said, “and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). We might also consider His words spoken to His followers at the Last Supper: “He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is My body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19).
Shepherds, working class men of the field. We are all familiar with Jesus’ words recorded in John 10:10 regarding Satan’s unrelenting quest to destroy our souls. “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy,” Jesus warned, “but I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." He follows that assuring declaration immediately by identifying Himself as the Good Shepherd: “the Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep” (John 10:11). And that is exactly what He did, completing God’s plan of salvation to all who would accept His Son as Savior and Lord.
Flocks: Not only are we described as the sheep under His tender care, but from before the foundation of the world, the spotless Lamb of God was destined to die for the transgressions of all mankind. His cousin, John the Baptizer pointed this out on the shores of the Jordan River when he welcomed Him as “the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29, 36). And, you may or may not have noticed that throughout the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, He is referred to simply as “The Lamb.”
The Star: We have already discussed that Christ’s coming was the fulfillment of numerous prophet utterances. The prophet Malachi (4:2) spoke of Him as “The Sun of Righteousness” Who would “arise with healing in His wings.” The apostle Peter seemed to follow that same line of thought when he referred to the Christ as the “Day Star” from on high (2 Peter 1:19). The “day star” is the sun, the source of light to every corner of this entire planet.
Magi came in search of the King of the Jews. But He proved Himself to be the Magi of magi, “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15).
So, you see, Christmas is about the Christ of the Cross and the Cross of the Christ. These are inseparably linked, evidenced by the symbols of the nativity.
Now, as we close this Advent season, we gaze into the future, anticipating His Second Advent when we will dwell with Him throughout eternity. Then we will not focus as much on the cross as on the crown.
Even so, come Lord Jesus.
[Editor's comment: I want to thank Shirley Spencer for taking the time to write these five lessons about the Sundays in Advent. I have enjoyed reading them, as well as editing them. Shirely is widely known in the IPHC. She served for many years as the executive editor of The Advocate, Issachar File, and IPHC Experience. Would you like to see Shirley publish these five articles about Advent in a booklet for many people to read and use in their respective churches? If so, write and let me know. You may write me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope your understanding of the Advent season has been enlightened and blessed.]