Luke 2:8-15 (NIV)
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
You really can’t get a full picture of the whole meaning of Christmas without considering Easter as well. We really need to appreciate seeing the manger and the cross side by side. I believe, that’s the way God intended us to view Jesus’ birth and death.
When angels appeared to those shepherds in the Judean countryside on the first Christmas, one of them said, “This will be the sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Have you ever considered what an odd thing that is to say? The angel had already announced that the Messiah had been born in Bethlehem. Why did the shepherds also need a sign? And what did the sign mean?
It’s all wrapped up in that feeding trough-literally. It’s a strange thing for a baby to be swaddled and placed in a manger, for what’s normally placed in a manger is food for sheep. That odd sight was the sign.
Many years later, Jesus would break bread and say, “This is my Body given for you.”
Luke 22:19 (NIV)
19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
On the cross, Jesus’ body was broken to become life-giving food for His sheep, and the first hint of this priceless sacrifice was given to the shepherds on that night He was born.
Without Christmas, there would have been no Easter, but without Easter, there would be little to celebrate at Christmas.
John Huss, an early church reformer said, “Rejoice that the immortal God is born, so that mortal man may live in eternity. It goes to show how much we really should rejoice at the fact that Jesus was actually born. God had no obligation to do this on our behalf.
As we near the day of Christmas this year, please consider these two questions:
What difference does it make to see Christmas in light of Easter?
How could you make Easter a part of your holiday celebration this Christmas?
There really is no point in trying to separate Christmas and Easter. They are completely dependent on each other so maybe we need to celebrate the entire scope of what Jesus did for us. When we can picture Jesus on the cross, it makes that baby in the manger look much more remarkable.
I wish you all a very Happy Easter, I mean…Merry Christmas!