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From the Manger to the Cross

Description

The birth of Christ was good news to the Shepherds, and it is good news to us.

In six short verses, the writer of Hebrews takes us from the manger to the cross. In Hebrews 10:5, he starts with this: “When Christ came into the world…” Then, within a few short statements, he fast forwards the reader to the cross. Along with the resurrection, these are the salient points of His story. The writer of Hebrews links these two events to show us the purpose for which Christ was born.

The first Christmas morn, Jesus inhabited a body. He entered into our world and became one of us. He took on our flesh and blood. This body had been prepared for Him by His Father. This body was to be the final sacrifice for sin.

Sacrifices were required by the Mosaic Covenant, but those sacrifices were not sufficient to take away sin. The blood of bulls and goats did not equal the weight of our sin. Even though the blood provided the people temporary relief from their guilt, it also reminded them that their sin still stood between them and God. The way into His presence had not been opened.

That required a greater sacrifice, one of infinite worth. Jesus came to be that sacrifice, the perfect Lamb of God. Yes, Jesus inhabited a body. Hearing the story of that holy night fills us with awe and wonder. The image of Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes strikes a chord of hope in each of us. It was this body that would be sacrificed on the altar of God’s mercy. This was the will of the Father. Jesus gladly took on our flesh and blood to carry out His will. Within this short passage, we see that the will of the Father is two-fold.

First, Jesus came to set aside the first covenant to establish a New Covenant. That first covenant judged us all guilty and left us dead in our sins. That covenant provided no means of escape, no opportunity for redemption. That covenant brought death. Jesus stepped into a body that was subject to the Old Covenant and He lived up to every righteous requirement. He was tempted just as we are and yet He was without sin. Not only that, He walked in perfect love, and as Paul wrote, “love is the fulfillment of the Law.”

But there was still the issue of our guilt and punishment. Something had to happen regarding both to bring the Old Covenant to its completion. Jesus offered Himself, perfect and unblemished, as the ultimate sacrifice for sin. On the cross, He cried out, “It is finished!” The Old covenant had been fulfilled once and for all. Jesus fulfilled it in order to establish the New Covenant.

The second aspect of the will of His Father is this: to make us holy through the sacrifice of Christ’s body. Martin Luther spent much of his life tormented by this question: “How can an unjust man survive in the presence of a just God?” The question could be asked this way: How can an unholy person survive in the presence of a Holy God? Apart from Christ, meriting the state of holiness is impossible.

But Christ stood in our place and took away our sins once and for all. His cleansing blood sets us apart and makes us holy. His sacrifice sets us apart from the law of sin and death; sets us apart from the empty way of life that was handed down to us by our parents; sets us apart to live righteous lives through faith in Him. Through Christ, you have been made holy. Jesus accomplished the will of the Father for you.

Yes there is much more to the story. As the apostle John wrote, “if everything was written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”

But here in these six verses, Hebrews 10:5-10, the writer of Hebrews tells us why Jesus became one of us and just exactly what that means for us. Jesus was born to die, and through His death He made us holy forever.

The Angel of the Lord appeared to shepherds saying, I bring you good tidings of great joy. Today in the city of David, a Savior has been born, Christ the Lord. It was good news to the Shepherds. It is good news to us.

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