The Manger to the Cross

His mother Mary laid him in a manger – a feeding trough, for livestock. Jesus, her first child, a helpless baby, was born in Bethlehem, miles from the home of Joseph and Mary. The shepherds found him there as the angels had described (Luke 2:6-16). Details of the actual birth are scarce, but the impact of His arrival profound. His birth was prophesied hundreds of years earlier, revealed to the prophet Isaiah.

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

“O Come, O Come, Immanuel, and randsom captive Israel.”

The prophecy was fulfilled in real time to Joseph and Mary and then the chosen shepherds. The promised Messiah was born to a virgin and a remnant remembered the promise and recognized the reality.

“That mourns in lonely exile here. Until the Son of God appear.”

A multitude of heavenly hosts (angels) appeared and praised God. A Savior, Christ the Lord, is born!

“Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel, shall come to thee, O Israel.”

The child Jesus grew from helpless babe into servant-king. He ministered to the people and healed their sickness and their sin. Many recognized Him as the Son of God. 

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them has the light shined.” Isaiah 9:2

Then joy turned to sorrow. 

“And it was now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour . . . the veil of the temple was torn in two.” Luke 23:44-45.

The long-awaited Messiah was crucified next to common criminals.

Luke recorded the birth and death of our Savior, Christ the Lord. And a remnant remembers. Immanuel – God with us. 

NOTE: Text in bold and centered are from VENI IMMANUEL, 9th Century.

NEXT: The Cross to the Grave

Fundamental Trust

In today’s world it’s difficult to trust. We are bombarded daily with media bias, opinions proclaimed as facts, conflicting science, cover-ups, and fraud. While public trust is eroding most of us still know people we can count on.

Who do you trust? A spouse or parent; sibling or close friend; physician or religious leader? Are you confident they will keep their promises? Does your trust come from experiences showing these people to be who they say, living true to their character? Trust in others is relative – based on past experiences, current situations, and hopes for the future. And yet, the most trustworthy people fail us at times.

THERE IS ONE WHO WON’T FAIL US.

God, creator of heaven and earth, is worthy of our trust. Scripture abounds with historical accounts of God fulfilling His promises – doing exactly what He said He would do. His actions show Him to be who He says – true to His character. In the Scriptures He has revealed, in part, the future and we can trust He will accomplish what He has declared.

Consider the miracles surrounding the birth of Jesus. Joseph trusted an angel of the Lord who appeared to him in dreams. Mary trusted the angel Gabriel, sent by God. Elizabeth and Zacharias believed the promises given through God’s prophets. On the night of Jesus’s birth shepherds believed angels, sent by God, and acted on their belief.

If you want a reminder that God is trustworthy, read the accounts of fulfilled promises, angelic interventions, and miraculous events recorded in the first two chapters of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

Then consider those whom God found trustworthy.

Proverb 3:5-6 says it well. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”

That’s what Joseph and Mary did. And Elizabeth and Zacharias. So did the shepherds. Will you do the same?