Christmas is a time of great joy and glad tidings thereof. But David Wheaton says the happy holiday takes on even deeper significance when we see Christ’s birth in Bethlehem in light of his mission at Calvary.
“Christ offering Himself on the cross as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind was actually the ultimate reason why Christ was born. Christ in the cradle was really just the beginning of His march from that wooden trough to, 33 years later, a wooden cross.”
“Focusing solely on Baby Jesus in the manger, that’s heartwarming, but it means very little without remembering the much higher purpose for which God became man. So it’s very important to keep in mind that these two events, the beginning of Christ’s life that we celebrate at Christmas, and then His crucifixion and resurrection that we celebrate Easter, are very closely linked, and they need to stay that way.”
It’s also valuable to look at Jesus’ death and resurrection in the context of His miraculous birth.
“A man dying on a cross doesn’t mean much unless you know that this man was born of a virgin, is a perfect man who could take away the sins of the world.”
“So it works both ways: the cradle is nothing without the cross, and the cross is nothing without keeping in mind what the cradle actually was–the Son of God becoming man.”
Through the richness of the Word, we can find new and powerful meaning each time we reflect on the details of the Christmas story. For example, why was the location of Christ’s birth, Bethlehem, important to the shepherds who heard the angelic proclamation?
“Bethlehem is where the unblemished lambs for temple sacrifice were born. These shepherds are raising the temple lambs for sacrifice. Now they have an angel come and say, Now the perfect Lamb of God has come that is going to take away the sins of the world. They would have gotten the significance immediately. That’s why they received this news with great joy, and they immediately wanted to go see baby Jesus.”
Wheaton says the fact that Christ was born of a virgin is not simply another odd detail to gloss over but a critical factor in our salvation:
“The virgin birth is incredibly significant to how Christ lived his life and what his sacrifice meant on the cross; he was completely unblemished, perfect. The (temple) lambs were types of the perfect Lamb to come.”
“Without the virgin birth of Christ, we don’t have one to save us from our sins. Everyone born of human parents has a sin nature and has his or her own problem to become right with God. We could pay the penalty for our sin (which would be death) for one sin and that would be it. But because Jesus Christ was supernaturally conceived from a virgin woman, he is sinless and so perfect that he could die for the sins of the whole world and satisfy God’s justice and wrath. That is why the virgin birth is so significant.”
David Wheaton is an author, radio host, and former professional tennis player. He hosts The Christian Worldview, a weekly, nationally-syndicated radio program that airs on 150 stations. In addition, David is a contributing columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and a sought-after speaker.Christmas from the cradle to the cross, David Wheaton