The Manger and the Cross
“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” 1 Ti. 1:15
With all the lights, songs, and gift giving that bombard us at Christmas, it’s easy to lose our focus. Today’s verse gives us a godly perspective, showing us how the Christmas story fits into God’s “big story.”
To begin with, we are all sinners. Even Paul, the apostle, who wrote these words, acknowledged before God that he was a sinner in desperate need of a savior. The reality is that we can’t save ourselves. But, thank God, we aren’t without hope: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
When we think of the Christmas story, what comes to mind? We see Mary and Joseph making the perilous journey to Bethlehem. We see a stable, plenty of animals, and a makeshift bed made from a manger. We hear heavenly choirs and see shepherds worshipping the newborn king.
All of these are familiar parts of the Christmas story. But they are also part of a bigger story—a story that, in the end, would carry Jesus to the cross. Let me put it like this: There is no manger without the cross. There is no Christmas without Good Friday. Jesus was born to fulfill a God-given mission. His life had a God-given trajectory. He came to save sinners, willingly bearing their sins and dying in their place.
The next time you see a Nativity with Jesus bundled in blankets and straw, thank God for the manger. It’s a reminder that God kept His promise and sent a savior. But also thank God for the cross and for His sacrifice. That’s why He came!