From cradle, to cross, to second coming

by Leonard Lauriault

Throughout this year’s Christmastime, I’ve been reminded of the familiar saying, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” We need reminders of Jesus’ historical life because so many people are trying to distort it, taking the “Christ” out of Christmas and all of life (1 Timothy 4: 1, 2; 2 Peter 2: 1-3).

Some of us also have been lulled into cooing over the baby in the cradle/manger to the point that we don’t know the complete history of Jesus’ life at all. As important as the facts of Jesus’ birth are, the underlying reason for his coming to earth is most critical. He didn’t come to be cooed over as a baby; he had a mission on which he focused (Mark 10: 45; Luke 19: 10; 2: 41-50; 9: 22, 51, 62).

The announcements and acknowledgements of Jesus’ birth included his Messianic purpose (Luke 1: 67-79, 26-33; Matthew 1: 18-25; Luke 2: 21-40) as had the prophecies (Micah 2: 2-5a; Isaiah 9: 1-7). Still, most Jews hadn’t reminded themselves about the Messiah’s true nature by honestly reviewing the prophecies.

They viewed him as a military hero who’d drive out their oppressors and restore their nation to its former glory. They focused on his predicted kingly entry on a donkey (Zechariah 9: 9, 10; Luke 19: 28-38), causing them to miss his entry as a baby as well as the fact that he actually was bringing peace when he did ride the donkey.

If you knew where your hero’s hometown was to be, wouldn’t you be watching every birth there with high hopes? None of God’s Jewish people, whether they anticipated a military leader or the true Messiah, was looking where God said he’d be found. In fact, the only people who knew he’d been born without a reminder were from elsewhere (Matthew 2: 1-12; Luke 2: 1-20). Further, when the shepherds spread the news about the Messiah’s birth, the people were amazed, but then what? And where’d the shepherds go? Right back to life as usual, it seems.
Jesus’ entrance into our life is to be a life-changing event! While the progression and magnitude of the effect varies among people, we’re to exhibit the change as we look forward to the things to come.

The Jews were satisfied with shallow matters, expecting God to do all the work for them. We mustn’t be lulled into only cooing over the baby in the cradle because God does his work through us (2 Peter 1: 3- 12; Philippians 2: 12, 13; Ephesians 3: 20, 21; 5: 15-17).

Rather than being a military leader, Jesus went from the cradle to the cross as the Prince of Peace to make peace between us and God by conquering the oppressor that separates us (John 17: 4; 19: 30; Colossians 2: 15; 2 Corinthians 2: 14; Ephesians 2: 13-18; Hebrews 2: 14-18; Isaiah 59: 1, 2; 53: 1-11). While Jesus overcame the world and is King of Kings, he’s not an invader, forcibly claiming new territory to advance his own interests (John 16: 33; 12: 23-33; Philippians 2: 4, 5).

He only takes control of those who surrender to him peacefully. He has given us authority, though, to become conquerors, taking captive the things that truly oppress us – our own thoughts, cares, fears, and sin (2 Corinthians 10: 5; 1 Peter 5: 7; I Corinthians 15: 57, 58).

Having borne his cross, Jesus is coming again to welcome into his eternal kingdom those who allowed him to sit on the throne of their lives (Hebrews 9: 27, 28). When he comes the oppression will just have begun for those who refused his offer of peace or didn’t’ make the most of the opportunities he provided or weren’t eagerly watching for his return (Matthew 24: 30, 31; 25: 1-46; Luke 19: 12, 14, 15, 27; Luke 14: 31-33).

WE are the reason for the CHRISTmastime season (John 3: 16). Remembering Christ’s first appearance and the reason he came throughout the year helps us look forward to his return (1 Corinthians 11: 23-26; Acts 20: 6, 7; 2 Timothy 4: 6-8). If we look for and make the most of the new opportunities he provides every day because we’re looking for the Messiah’s second coming, our lives will be much more peaceful because God’s faithfulness is great since everything happens just as God says it will (2 Corinthians 4: 16-5: 10; Lamentations 3: 21-26; Luke 2: 20).

What’s the degree of your faithfulness? Why don’t you accept God’s terms of peace. Take up your cross and start enjoying the abundant life that is your purpose (John 10: 10; Matthew 16: 24-27; Ephesians 2: 10).

Leonard Lauriault is a member of the church of Christ