The two-thousand-year-old story of Christ’s birth is a wonderful story of hope.
The child captures our hearts and imaginations: conceived supernaturally, entrusted to parents of meager circumstance, born in a stable, wrapped in swaddling cloth, laid in a manger, visited by humble shepherds, a son whose early death was predicted and would puncture his mother’s heart. Such a fragile beginning: hope and glory abiding in a newborn baby whose death was anticipated in his birth. How would this child live out his life? A prophet? Physician and healer of the diseased and wounded? Simple teacher? Purveyor of wisdom? Humble worker among the poor and oppressed masses from which he came and of which he was a part?
So much hope for peace on earth and goodwill for mankind invested in the child.
But, the shadow of death surrounds the story. In Matthew’s account, Herod the king searches for the child in Bethlehem and slays all babies under two years of age. Luke’s account moves quickly from the birth story to eight days later when the child was dedicated in the Temple. A man named Simeon who had been waiting many years to see the salvation of Israel, approached Mary and said, “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2:34:35).
Even at birth, death seemed to lurk in Christ’s future.
While we don’t acknowledge it, death hangs over every birth; it is a shadow cast on the path of every life, but especially the life of Christ. With Christ’s death, however, death lost its power. Paul would write:
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
So, because of Christ’s birth, death may seize a believer, but it cannot hold him in its power.
Praise God that faith in Christ overcomes the power of death. But we should remember that our faith overcomes the power of this world, also. “For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:4:5).
Christmas is a time for believers to celebrate how truly free we are in our faith. In Christ, we have overcome this world and, in him, death has no power over us.
In Closing, I say:
Lift High the Cross