In The Shadow Of The Cross (Nov-Dec 2000)

By Matt Dabbs

by Rick Gamble
November – December, 2000

They laid the swaddling clothes in the manger so He wouldn’t feel the roughness of the wood on His back. On the cross, there would be no such cushion, from the wood or the consequences of my sins. Sins as numerous as the pilgrims who crowded Bethlehem to be counted among the citizens of the realm.

It was a fitting time for the Savior to be born for He came to take a sinner’s census – giving His life so those willing to accept the free gift of forgiveness could be numbered among the people of God.

Despite that holy mission, He would take no one’s place in the inn, waiting instead to take everyone’s place on the cross. Both times, He was overlooked by those too busy or too narrow in their expectations to recognize who He was. Little has changed in two thousand years, yet He changed everything.

Not surprisingly, shepherds knew the Lamb when they saw Him on that star-emblazoned night of new beginnings. They found Him because they had eyes to see angels and ears to hear their songs. Perhaps the angelic joy was tinged with just a trace of apprehension as the Baby lay helpless in the hands of weak humans, but the holy beings held back nothing in their exultation. Scant years later, they would hold back everything, kept from thundering down in righteous, awful anger as they watched callused hands and hearts drive nails through the wrists of Jesus and the writhing soul of his Father.

But in Bethlehem, the only tears were from a newborn and those seeking to be born anew. God put Himself completely at our mercy, despite the risk. He wants us to return the favor so He can change us from what humanity tends to be to what He intends us to be. Just as Jesus was formed then transformed, so must our faith be.

The choice is yours. Like the wise man who gave a gift of gold, you can honor the Lord with your best, or sell Him out for thirty pieces of silver. Your very life is like myrrh. You can use it to either bury Jesus – much like they used myrrh at the sepulcher – or you can use it to honor Him, just like the Magi who rejoiced at the Messiah’s arrival.

That first time believers came to see Him where He lay, they rejoiced because Jesus was there. The last time believers came to see Him where He lay, they rejoiced because He was not. On resurrection day, the only thing laid to rest once and for all were the doubts of his disciples.

But if Christ had come and gone without a willingness to take our sins with Him, the gesture would have been as empty as the rough-hewn tomb. God didn’t give His Son to demonstrate loveless power, or powerless love. In Jesus, we see instead the yearning of a Creator to connect with you and me in an intimate, meaningful relationships bathed in hope, peace of mind and partnership.

In other words, the nativity of Christ is pointless without the creativity of the Holy Spirit. In Him, our minds and lives are made new and made whole. When we allow the Son to be born and borne within us every day, He will “shine on those of us who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace” (Luke 1:79, 80).

So make room for Him in your life; offer Him the gifts that are uniquely yours to give and let Him work within you to carry your faith from the creche to the hill of Calvary to the crowning glory of heaven. The infant Son is seen best in the shadow of the Cross.Wineskins Magazine

Rick Gamble

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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1577 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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