Christmas Eve. The wonder and splendor of the season comes to its grand finale tonight. All around the world Christians are coming together to celebrate the birth of Christ. Thinking back to that first Christmas, what comes to your mind? The announcement of the angels, the glory of God filling up the night sky, a young Mary experiencing the pains of birthing her first child, Joseph, trying to do all he could to comfort his hurting wife, a cold dark stable filled with smelly animals and moldy hay?
Our pretty manger scenes don’t begin to do justice to what exactly went on that night. The conditions in the stable where Jesus was born were definitely not the norm for welcoming in a King. The manger where the newborn King slept was in a stable. A stable not made of wood, but of stone. A stone cave, borrowed from an inn keeper, welcomed our Savior.
As you picture that stone cave, fast forward some thirty-three years to another cave, another place where Jesus was laid inside a stone cave, this time not by Joseph, His father, but by Joseph of Arimathea: “Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away” (Matthew 27:59-60). Here is our King, again laid to rest in a borrowed cave; this time not to welcome His birth, but to mourn His death. Once again we see that He was born to die, for my sins and yours.
Can anyone shout HALLELUJAH!!! with me? Okay let me tell you why we’re shouting. Because just three days later, He was ALIVE!!!!! That stone had been rolled away and He was alive. Once again angels heralded the news: “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who had been crucified. HE IS NOT HERE, for He has risen, just as He said” (Matthew 28:5-6, emphasis added).
I praise You, Lord for You were born to die for me so that I could have life eternal. Praise His name!