Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here but is risen!” Luke 24:5b-6a
It cast a long shadow. Can you imagine what it was like that night when Jesus was born? Can you imagine being nine months pregnant and making a weeklong journey walking or on the back of a donkey? Can you imagine mile after mile until there were 90 of them in the rearview mirror? Can you imagine arriving only to discover that there was no room, no space anywhere and the pains of birth begin and become stronger and stronger. No room, no midwife, no doctor, and no hospital.
Finally, someone offers a stable for the night. It almost certainly was not a wooden affair but rather a cold, damp cave. Wood would have been very scarce so rather than a cozy manger made of wood there would have been one chiseled from stone. And there in those difficult circumstances, the King and creator of the universe took on the form of a human baby. Jesus was born and according to scriptures was wrapped in strips of cloth or swaddling cloths. And most of it, all of it, cast a long shadow into His future.
Have you ever wondered why Luke made it a point to mention the swaddling cloths? It is interesting to know that some thirty-three years later, after His death on the cross, this same Jesus would be prepared for burial by being wrapped once again in strips of cloth or swaddling cloths. You see, those birth cloths cast a long shadow…all the way to His death. The reason for Christmas was Easter. And that manger, that stone manger, casts a long shadow too. After His death on the cross, it was in a tomb carved from stone that held the body of Jesus. As a baby He was laid in stone and as the Redeemer of man, they laid Him in a tomb of stone. How amazing…how wonderful.
But here is the most amazing part. The baby that first Christmas night would not stay in the stony manger long and soon also cast off those swaddling cloths. The long shadow they cast would tell the same truth. After Jesus’ death on the cross, after His burial, He refused to stay dead. On the third day, He cast off the swaddling cloths of death and burst out of the stony tomb, proving He was indeed the Son of God…the Savior of the world. Christmas was the beginning of His earthly existence, but the end of the story proved His eternal existence. He was who He claimed to be, and He did do what He was sent to do.
Jesus came to earth that first Christmas on a rescue mission. Pastor Chuck Swindoll writes, “This is the message of Christmas: On a rescue mission designed by His Father before time began, Jesus silently slipped into our world, breathed our air, felt our pain, became acquainted with our sorrows, suffered and died for our sins . . . to show us the way out of our darkness and into His glorious light.”
As we approach Christmas, let me encourage to look beyond the stable, the manger and the Baby that lies there. While wondrous for sure, the end of the story is even grander than the beginning. God became man…that is amazing…but that the God-Man died for man…well that is even more so. So, when you see the manger, remember an empty grave. When you think of the swaddling cloths, imagine them neatly folded in an empty tomb. And remember the greatest wonder of all when the angel said to Mary of Magdalene, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here but is risen!”
Merry Christmas friends but may I also say, “Happy Easter” for they are forever linked together. The baby in the manger became the Savior on the cross and the Savior of the cross became the King of Kings. Hallelujah. Oh, and that King is the One who waits patiently for us to trust Him. After all, today and everyday…He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne