Monday through Friday I deal with different subjects in this blog. I also post my blog to my Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld. Wednesday’s I try to focus on the Church. This week I am taking a look at 3 Fascinating Fundamentals with Jesus’ Manger.
In today’s politically correct world the importance of Christmas and the Manger is buried under commercialism, social agendas, and anti-Christian propaganda. I recently read an article by Rev. Billy Graham (1918-2018) entitled The Manger, the Cross and the Crown (1974). I have included excerpts in this blog as well as new material of my own. I have also changed all Scripture references to the King James Version.
- The Manger
Amazing as it may seem to today’s crowd the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ was a visitor from outer space. More than that, He was from the 3rd Heaven or the heavenlies. Reverend Graham said this about the manger:
He was God Incarnate who came to Earth and took on a human body. That virgin-born baby was God in human form. He humbled Himself; He took the form of a servant; He was made in your likeness and mine; He identified Himself with the problems of the human race.
And thus it was that the Apostle John wrote, “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).
What a difference the baby born in Bethlehem’s manger 2,000 years ago makes to our world today! The educational systems He has inspired; the social reforms that His teachings have instituted; and the transformation of families and lives that have come about as a result of a baby born at Bethlehem! The whole world was thinking of Caesar. The whole world was thinking of Rome. But in God’s eternal plan, He was thinking of a baby in a manger in the little tiny town of Bethlehem.
The Manger is fundamental to the Christian faith. Take away the Virgin Birth of Jesus and you destroy the gospel. No mere man could pay our penalty. It had to be a man not bearing the curse from the Garden. Jesus Christ came from the Father, was equal with the Father and “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.”
- The Cross
One of my favorite pictures is that of the manger overshadowed by the cross. I’ve included one with this blog. It makes a direct connection between the two events though they were separated by 33 years.
In his concluding comments Rev. Graham said, Christmas, to have meaning, cannot be separated from the cross. The angel said at the birth of Jesus, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21). In John 18:37 we read, “Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” He was the only person in history who was born with the purpose of dying. The Apostle Paul, years later said, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).
The central message of Christmas is that Jesus Christ, by His death and resurrection, can transform both individuals and society. Almost everyone at some time or another feels moral guilt and failure. In every newspaper or magazine that we pick up, and in every newscast that we watch, we see a picture of hate and lust and greed and prejudice and corruption—manifested in a thousand ways. The fact that we have policemen and jails and military forces indicates that something is radically wrong with human nature.
The Bible teaches that the human race is morally sick. This disease has affected every phase of our life in society. The Bible calls this disease by an ugly, three-letter word: sin.
The Bible teaches that the only cure for sin is the blood that Christ shed on the cross. Christ became the Lamb of God who bled and died on the cross for our sins.
The cross and the resurrection stand today as man’s only hope. It was at the Crucifixion and Easter that God did for man what man could not do for himself. From these momentous events, God is saying to sinful man, “I love you. I love you so much I gave my Son.” But He’s saying more than that. He’s saying, “I can forgive you, because of what He did on the cross.” And this is good tidings (or good news) this and every Christmas!
Some may dismiss it as idiotic and ridiculous that a man dying 2,000 years ago could be relevant today. Paul anticipated that we’d say that. He said, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18).
I believe that America stands on the threshold of divine judgment. Morally, socially, economically, politically, spiritually, we are in deep trouble. We’ve turned away from God, and every month seems to take us further away from the only One who can reverse the tide, forgive our sins and forestall the imminent judgment. We must alter our course if we are going to see many more Christmas seasons as a free people.
Our greatest need is a change in the hearts of people. That is why Jesus said, “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:7). That’s why He said, “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3). Paul, in his famous sermon at Mars Hill, said, “God … commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31)
Who should repent? Everybody. This is what the cross calls for. The heart of its message is simple: Repent or perish.
The Scripture says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (Psalm 51:17). If we as individuals and as a nation would humble ourselves and turn from our sins, God has promised forgiveness, healing to the nation and eternal life to the individual.
- The Crown
The third fundamental is the crown.
Chiseled into the cornerstone of the United Nations building is a quotation from the Bible that has never yet been fulfilled. It reads, “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isaiah 2:4). This is a thrilling thought. It has often been repeated by those who long for peace. However, this quotation must not be taken out of context.
The passage speaks of the time when the Messiah will reign over the whole earth. This is the era about which Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer to pray: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10). This is the time when He who came as the baby of Bethlehem shall come back as King of kings and Lord of lords.
The Bible teaches that there will be an end to history as we know it. Man will have his last Armageddon. But when it seems that man is about to destroy himself, God will intervene. Christ will return.
At the manger, He was in the stall of an animal. At the cross, He wore a crown of thorns.
But when He comes again, it will be as Commander in Chief of the armies of Heaven. He will take control of this war-weary world and bring the peace that we strive for and long for. A new world will be formed, a new social order will emerge. Sin will be eliminated. Tears will be wiped from every eye. Disease shall be no more, and even death will be eliminated from the human scene. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, and war shall be no more.
This is the promise of Christmas. This is our hope. This is the Christmas star that lights our darkness. This is the assurance that a new day is coming, through the Messiah, whose name is called by Isaiah the prophet, “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.” (Isaiah 9:6).
Three fundamentals:The manger where He was born in the stall of an animal; at the cross where He wore the crown of thorns; and then the Crown of His kingdom. What a wonderful gift God has given us. We can sum it all up in five words: The Gift of His Son!
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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.