A Cradle, A Cross
And A Crown …
Christ Jesus … being in the form of God … was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him the name which is above every name (Philippians 2:5-9).
Seven centuries before Jesus was born Isaiah, a prophet of Judah, speaking in the Holy Spirit predicted the manner of that birth: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel [God with us]” (Isa. 7:14). Again Isaiah saw Him in prophetic vision: “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, Counselor, Mighty God, Father of the Ages, the Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6). Why was He born? Why did the eternal Word take upon Himself flesh and blood to dwell among men? He Himself gave the answer when He declared: “Lo, I come … to do Thy will, O God” (Heb. 10:7).
1. Christ came to the cradle. When the One who was ever in the bosom of the Father emptied Himself for a time of His heavenly glory and took upon Himself the form of a servant, He entered this earth in the likeness of men, not only in form but also in the way that all of us are born — as a helpless little child. His cradle should have been made of gold and crested with precious stones. Instead it was a manger in a stable of an inn that had no room for Him. His attendants could have been angelic hosts and the kings of the earth. Instead they were lowly shepherds of the Judaean hills. Yet an angel of the Lord did announce the birth, saying: “Fear not; for I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” And a heavenly host did praise God, saying: “Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace, good will toward men.” For in the Babe who was born in Bethlehem that night 2000 years ago Deity and humanity met. God Himself came to dwell among men. He came to serve men. He came to save men. He came to die.
Christ went to the cross. During the life on earth of the Son of God He revealed Himself for who He was by His gracious words, infinite compassion and mighty deeds. Nothing that He said or thought or did warranted man’s hatred. Yet apart from a handful that followed Him and hundreds whose lives He touched in tenderness and healing, He was met with indifference and enmity. Those who should most have welcomed him, the religious leaders of His day, sought again and again to lay hands upon Him for evil. But none could touch Him until His hour should come. In God’s time, however, that hour did come and the beloved Son of God, whose life always carried the shadow of the cross, met His appointed death unflinchingly. Voluntarily He became obedient to the death of the cross when He gave Himself for us — for you and for me — to bear our sins in His body on the cross, thus opening the gates of God’s mercy and grace to needy and believing sinners.
Christ will be crowned. He who emptied Himself and took upon Himself the likeness of men, He who humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, was raised and has now been exalted. His name, the name Jesus that is used so carelessly by many, is the most exalted name in the universe. Now He is seated upon the Father’s throne. But one day He Himself will be crowned and enthroned, when at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of things in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth. And every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:9-11).
In the holiday season that is approaching, when Christ’s name is upon many lips but in comparatively few hearts, when many are merry but few filled with joy, let us remember to behold His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, full of mercy and justice, full of love and majesty, and filled with all the fullness of God. To do less is to rob Him of that which is due Him. To do less is to deprive oneself of blessing and peace. “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.”
—E. Schuyler English
in The Pilgrim