This year there is a new ornament on our Christmas tree that seems a bit out-of-place amidst the other decorations. You see it does not shine with the shimmer of silver or gold, nor does it twinkle like a bright star to behold. To some it would seem that it has arrived four months too early, but to those who really understand the miracle of Christmas, it reminds us of that which truly brings significance to this season.
The ornament is an old rugged cross and I’ve placed it on the tree with great care. A reminder to my family that though Christmas is a time to celebrate how he came, we must also remember how he went. You see you can’t have Christmas without the Christ and you can’t have the Christ without the Cross.
No, it’s not a festive thought to consider the death of that blessed child who had no crib for a bed. But to see the significance of this one who was laid in manger we must also remember how he would later be hung on a cross.
So this cross hangs on our tree to remind us that the Cross was why He came that holy night.
The Cross reminds us that this Son was born to give.
That night as a humble stable became a royal state-room, an earthly mother took hold of her newborn son. No doubt she dreamt as any mother would how this child, her child, might live his life to the fullest. However this child had come for something far greater – to give his life to the fullest.
Jesus was the Father’s perfect present, given this first Christmas to imperfect people. Though he was born a King of all Kings, he lived to serve all of mankind. This is the child who would one day stoop low to wash the feet of those who followed him. This is the child who came to seek out and save that which was lost by offering sight to the sightless, hope to the hopeless, love to the loveless, and life to the lifeless.
Truly what child was this who laid to rest on Mary’s lap. He was sought out by the wisest of men who brought him wonderful gifts but the greatest gift was not the one they held, but the one Mary held.
The Cross reminds us that this son was born to die.
As this child drew in his first breath, his last breath was already pre-determined. This child, this holy child was born already condemned to die. His death was the very reason he came. The very reason he was given. Dying was his reason for living.
The Cross was already waiting for him before he would ever take his first step. Those little hands and little feet that were now swaddled in tattered clothes would soon be pierced for the iniquities of us all. He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. How fitting that his birth place would be among sheep and those who first watched over him would be shepherds.
The Cross reminds us that he was born so that we might live.
As the sky lit up that night with an entire choir of angels who harkened their voice to sing glory to the newborn king, it was finally announced that God and sinner would be reconciled.
He was born that man no more may die. Born to raise the sons of earth and born to give them second birth. He was born so that you and I might live!
What wonderful, glorious news!
There is not one gift wrapped underneath my tree that could ever compare with the gift that he brought that night. There is nothing I could offer him in exchange. He gave his life for me, so that I might live. I can only offer him my life so that he may live in me.
This is why this old rugged cross has found its way onto my tree this Christmas. A reminder that though I may decorate my tree with shiny ribbons and bows, it was God who adorned his tree with his one and only son. To me this cross is fitting because though the Cross was not a pretty sight, nothing since has ever been so beautiful.