From a Cave to a Cross
Luke 2:8-20; Philippians 2:5-8
INTRODUCTION: In a few days, we will celebrate the birth of Christ. The Traditional date is December 25th. I'm not certain we know the actual time of His birth; however, according to many Bible scholars, there seems to be enough evidence for this date. The important thing is that we celebrate His birth.
When Joseph and Mary came to Bethlehem, they found no room in the inn; as a result, they were forced to take refuge in a manger. A manger was a stable for animals. Typically, this would have been a cave. The last time we were in Israel, we visited a cave in "Shepherd's Field," a place thought to be where David kept his sheep. We also visited the traditional sight where it is believed Mary gave birth to Jesus. Imagine for a minute, the Son of God, born in a smelly cave, reserved for animals. On our Christmas cards, we often see the different animals surrounding the baby Jesus--donkeys, sheep and cattle. Now, we don't really know for certain if there were any animals in the cave; I would expect not...most likely, if there had been any, they would have been driven out to make room for Mary. As bad as we think about this--a cave for the birth of the Son of God, let us keep in mind; this cave was no accident--this was the exact place God chose for the birth of His Son. And isn't it also interesting that of all the animals, God chose to refer Jesus as a Lamb. There in that cave, a Lamb was born. John said, "Behold, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world."
The story of the birth of Christ does not end with the manger scene in a cave; no, from that lowly place in Bethlehem, our story continues on for 33 years, as Jesus grows from boyhood to manhood, ministering and sharing the gospel, until the time of His death. The story of the birth of Christ concludes with the final chapter written on Calvary: He "...became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
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