The Cross, The Cradle, And The Crown


THE CRADLE, THE CROSS AND THE CROWN
By Mark E. Hardgrove
Text: Luke 2:1-12


1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them,"Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." NKJV

INTRODUCTION

I want to share a short devotion with you today concerning Jesus, and the example that He gives us in His birth, His life and death, and His exaltation. I heard a pastor in Kansas summarize it with these three points: The Cradle, The Cross and The Crown. Let me take about ten minutes to expand these points.

I) The Cradle

First, we look at the cradle. Every Christmas season we are reminded that Jesus, God in the flesh, was born and laid in a manger. A manger is a feed-trough for animals. That was the first bed for the King of kings. Jesus, is the bread of life who is available for whosoever will, so His first bed is a fitting symbol of His mission.

Joseph, the husband of Mary, was a carpenter so it is rational to imagine that at some point he fashioned a cradle for the baby Jesus. Jesus began this life in the flesh, meek and mild, a child who was held and cradled in the arms of loving parents.

I have a friend who puts out a big Christmas display every year, including lights and a large plastic, internally lit, Nativity display. One year someone stole the plastic baby Jesus from the manger. Instead of buying a new plastic baby doll, he puts out a sign every year with his display that says, "Please bring back baby Jesus."

Jesus is no longer a baby in a cradle.

II) THE CROSS

Unlike the plastic and ceramic representations of Jesus as a baby in a manger, Jesus did not remain a child throughout perpetuity. Which lead us to the next point, the cross. Jesus grew in stature and wisdom and for some 33 years He walked upon this celestial ball called earth. Everywhere He went, He was doing good. He was, however, born to die.

From the moment of His birth, the path of Messiah was leading inexorably to the cross. He walked many miles upon the dusty roads of Galilee and Judea, but His destiny was on a hill far away, where an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame cast its shadow over His life. He was born and cradled, but He was headed for a cross.

III) THE CROWN

We realize today that Jesus is no longer in a cradle, nor is He still suspended upon the cross. Catholics always depict the Crucifix with Jesus still on the cross, while Protestants usually display an empty cross. While the sacrifice of the cross has effects that are continuous and powerful throughout the ages, Jesus is no longer on the cross. He was buried in a borrowed tomb, but He’s no longer in the tomb, because on the third day He got up. And some 40 days later His disciples watched as He ascended in clouds of glory to the right hand of the Father. He is no longer a baby, He is no longer a suffering servant, but today He is at the Father’s right hand where He has been crowned King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

CONCLUSION

The Cradle the Cross and the Crown should define our journey as well.

First, we must be born again. As babes in Christ we must desire the sincere milk of the Word that we may grow thereby.

Second, we too must take up our cross and follow Jesus. We must be willing to lose our life in Him that we may find it in Him.

Third, if we have been born again, and if we faithfully follow Him, then we too have been promised a crown. If at the end our life, we can honestly say with the Apostle Paul, “7 I have fought a good fight , I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (1 Tim. 4:7)

Then we can also say with Paul, “ Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day” (1 Tim. 4:8).

Some folks will never get to the crown. This is God’s plan for your life, but you may be the one who thwarts that plan. It may be that you’ve never been born again, you may not make it to the cradle. You may have rejected the pleading of loved ones and the pull of the Spirit, and you may choose to reject the rule of Christ in your life.

For others, it is the cross that gets them. They want a Christ without a cross, and they want salvation without sacrifice. When they count the cost of following Jesus they simply say that it is too much and they turn their back on their faith.

But thank God there are those who will accept Christ, who will be born again, and who are willing to walk the walk. They will receive a crown. What about you?