Bethlehem Happened for One Reason: Calvary

carpenter shop cross

From Philip Yancey’s award-winning book, “The Jesus I Never Knew”:

“When the Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci went to China in the sixteenth century, he brought along samples of religious art to illustrate the Christian story for people who had never heard it.

The Chinese readily adopted portraits of the Virgin Mary holding her child, but when he produced paintings of the crucifixion and tried to explain that the God-child had grown up only to be executed, the audience reacted with revulsion and horror. They much preferred the Virgin and insisted on worshiping her rather than the crucified God.

As I thumb once more through my stack of Christmas cards (with front covers depicting calm, peaceful manger scenes), I realize that we in Christian countries do much the same thing.

We observe a mellow, domesticated holiday purged of any hint of scandal. Above all, we purge from it any reminder of how the story that began at Bethlehem turned out at Calvary.”

In his wonderful book, God With Us: The Miracle of Christmas, John MacArthur reminds us,

“Here’s a side to the Christmas story that isn’t often told:  those soft little hands, fashioned by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb, were made so that nails might be driven through them…..Jesus was born to die.”

Finally, in the beloved carol, What Child is This, there is a chorus originally written by its author that is not often sung:

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you;
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Obviously, for Jesus to die he first had to be born.  And we joyously celebrate that birth every Christmas season.  But, a miraculous birth, alone, would not save his people from their sins.”   This is precisely why, only after the Cross, did Jesus utter, “It is finished.”

“For our sake,” Paul wrote, “he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Soli Deo Gloria & Merry Christmas, Nick