Walking around an art museum this weekend, it struck me that there were so many religious images. The majority of the religious images were of one of two popular scenes, though: the baby Jesus in Mary’s arms and the adult Jesus hanging on a cross.

It isn’t just art that focuses on these two aspects of the life of Christ. We wear crosses around our necks and set up nativities in our homes. Often our worship, our theology, our entertainment, and our evangelistic efforts largely revolve around these two events.

This isn’t wrong. The manger and the cross are central to the Gospel and to our salvation. We often focus on these two things because:

•  The manger is relatable –we all know babies and families.
•  Baby Jesus is a sweet gift from God.
•  A baby gives hope and joy, reminding us of God’s love.

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•  The cross is relatable – we’ve felt the pain of sin.
•  Jesus’ crucifixion is a gift that relieves us of guilt.
•  A cross feels real and sentimental, reminding us that we are saved.

These things, too, aren’t wrong. Jesus coming as a little baby is a precious demonstration of God’s tender, gentle love and understanding of humanness. On the cross, Jesus atoned for every sin and freed all people from deadly grip of evil. It’s important that we remember and rejoice in these works of our Lord.

But, what do we miss when we turn our constant attention to these matters?

• The person and character of the triune God.
• Miracle upon miracle revealing the power and mercy of the Lord.
• Our hope for His return and our work according His will.
• Full conviction of our sin, brought on by the Spirit when we face the perfection of God.
• A great high priest who identifies with our every temptation –and provides escape.
• Joy and transformation as new creations –the children of Christ who ROSE from the grave!

In Ephesians 3:17-19, Paul says this:

“ I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

As the following verse (Eph 3:20) points out, Christ is able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine”. Go beyond the cross and the manger. Jesus is a whole lot more than just a precious baby or an innocent man condemned. The fullness of Him is what we are to desire and be filled with.

By making us new creations, Christ did more than improve our old selves. We’re more than understood and saved. We’re redeemed! God calls us friends, knows as His children, and is glad when we approach His throne with confidence because we are made new in Christ.

It is easy to allow ourselves to be limited to palatable truths and easy definitions, but we have nothing to fear in going deeper.

“Seek,” Christ says over and over. “Do not be afraid,” He repeats. These weren’t just words when the troubles of the world seemed too much. Jesus said these things to those who got close to Him and trembled in His presence because of His power, perfection, and uncompromising truth.

God wants us. God loves us. God has extended Himself graciously to us. We have nothing to fear in getting to know Him in more contexts than the manger and the cross.

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