The Cross of Christmas

By Diane Stortz

Have you ever noticed how the presence of a baby or a young child changes the dynamics of a sad situation?

03_Communion_JNThe crotchety great-uncle you haven’t spoken to in years just might turn up at a reunion if the newest member of the family will be there.

At a funeral home, between their tears, mourners manage happy smiles at the unself-conscious laughter of a toddler.

And if you’re wondering how a war-torn, despairing world can go on, just ask any grandparent what’s new with the grandchildren!

Babies and young children bring us together. They give us hope. A baby, said the poet Carl Sandburg, is God’s opinion that the world should go on.

One baby in particular. The apostle Peter wrote that God chose Jesus to be our ransom long before the world began (1 Peter 1:20).

Angels and a new star announced this baby’s birth. Lowly shepherds heard the news and hustled into Bethlehem to see him. Aristocratic wise men saw the star and set off on an arduous journey to find and worship him.

In the temple, when he was just eight days old, this baby brought joy and hope to Simeon and Anna, elderly God followers who had been waiting for the Savior’s arrival.

Jesus’ birth fulfilled prophecy and proved, again that God keeps his promises. But as wonderful as the birth of this baby was, it was Jesus’ death, not his birth, that did the necessary reconciling work. Colossians 1:19, 20 says, “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”* Paul wrote that Jesus came to reconcile sinful humanity to a holy God, bringing peace to those near to God and to those far off (Ephesians 2:16, 17).

At the cross, Jesus set us free. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13).

The prophet Isaiah wrote about a time when “the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6).

Indeed, a little child does lead us this Christmas season—straight to the cross.

________

*Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version.

Diane Stortz is a freelance editor and author of A Woman’s Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year (Bethany House). Her new book Words to Dream On: Bedtime Bible Stories and Prayers (Tommy Nelson) releases in February. 

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