Our Savior was born for the grave. When He rose that third day, He completed our victory. His life's work done, death was overcome. An infant changed the world for all of time, gave us life sublime.
As we examine Jesus’ birth, the signs point straight to His death. He had the humblest beginning. Luke 2:7 says, “And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (NKJV)
In Biblical times, they didn’t have inns in the way we think of them now. The Greek word translated as inn is κατάλυμα (kat-al'-oo-mah) which can also mean lodging or guest room. The eastern cultures of the time prided themselves on their hospitality, so there was no need for formal inns. However, the large influx of people for the census resulted in fewer spaces in relatives’ homes to take in the young couple. Instead, their hosts found room for Mary and Joseph in a cave. In western culture, we think of the animals living in a wooden barn. However, wood was scarce in that region so animals lived in caves.
How appropriate for our Savior to be born in a cave. When he died, they laid his body in another cave and rolled the stone shut. Christ came full circle. Even His modest birth foreshadowed where His life would take Him—back to a cave, crucified for the sins of the world.
It is odd to think of Jesus’ life purpose as His death. Most people aim to be a hard worker or make a name for themselves. Matthew 20:28 says, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (NKJV) Christ sought to serve by surrendering His life to pay the debt our sins demanded, but we could never pay.
Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (NKJV) Jesus didn’t die for us when we were His supportive friends. He sacrificed Himself even though we were His enemies. It boggles my mind.
Death on the cross was such painful physical death, they created a word to describe the agony of dying on the cross – excruciating. Yet, it wasn’t just the physical pain, but the spiritual separation from His Father as the entire cup of God’s wrath was emptied on Christ. All sins ever committed by mankind, past, present, and future, were paid on that cross.
Jesus was born for the cross. He bled and died and suffered loss. Philippians 2:7-8 says Christ, “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (NKJV) Jesus walked, talked, hungered and tired, just like we do. He came so He could relate to us; so we can obtain mercy in our times of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16) He demonstrated sacrificial love, leaving a gilded throne for a dirt floor to die for His enemies.
Not only is Jesus’ birth the reason for the season, but His death gives us life. He reconciled us to God so that we can live eternally with Him. Jesus didn’t stay in the grave, but rose the third day. As we leave the Christmas season and enter the New Year, we go as new creations. Romans 6:4b says, “Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (NKJV) I pray that in 2019 we walk in our new lives that Christ won through His death.
What is your life purpose?
How can you serve others in 2019?
Joanna Eccles has led Bible studies for over ten years and completed the year-long C. S. Lewis Fellows Program. She is passionate about discipleship and helping people know God better. Joanna enjoys coffee, traveling, and reading, and currently lives in Virginia.