Imagine with me a beautiful Christmas card showing a manger scene with the star shining bright above the manger. We see that often, don’t we? In the Bible, however, the star doesn’t appear until nearly two years later over the house where this special family lives. Still, the card is a lovely scene.
For a few years, however, I’ve imagined that star becoming a cross – just stretch it out a little and you can see it also. After all, Jesus had no reason to become human flesh and live on earth if it weren’t to die on that cross for our sins. Yes, while here, He did great miracles and showed us how God wants us to live, but that’s not the reason He came as a baby. The cross was the reason.
When Jesus was taken as a baby to the temple, Simeon was there and prophesied these words about Him: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32). In verse 35, Simeon addressed these words to Mary, “And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
Now in your imagination take the long points of that star and turn them into a sword – the sword Simeon spoke of to Mary. Now see in that star the sword that pierced our blessed Savior’s side. That agony and humiliation He endured for you and me.
I hope these thoughts help us think more seriously about Christmas and remember exactly WHO we celebrate at this time of year. Yes, I enjoy all the decorations, the special lights, the gifts, the food and parties. Especially I love the family gatherings and the special Christmas services when we gather to worship our Lord. But without Easter, there would be no need of Christmas. So let’s remember not only Who we celebrate this season, but the reason Christ came to earth in the first place.
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. 17 God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. 18 Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.” (John 3:16-18, from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)