Beyond the Manger

     By now, the presents have been opened, and all the ribbons and wrapping paper thrown away (or burned, recycled-whatever).  But, it’s still Christmastime, so there’s just one thing to ask yourself:  What did I do with Jesus?  After all, it’s His birthday that we say we celebrate (or at least most people do).  Did you spend time with Him on His day?  If you didn’t, it’s O.K., because He’s always there– waiting to spend time with you, on Christmas Day and every other day.

     I never understood those people who, on the day after Christmas, rip down all their decorations.  It’s like they just can’t wait to get rid of it for some reason.  Why can’t they take this time, the week after Christmas, to honor the One who gave His all for us?  This could be the best time to enjoy all of the beauty of Christmas, now that the shopping-cooking-wrapping/unwrapping part is over.  It’s sad that too many of us put the Baby Jesus away with the Christmas lights, only to take Him out again in the spring– as a grown man– with lily-covered crosses, pastel baskets and bunnies.

     There’s a lot more to Jesus than the baby in the manger and the man on the cross.

     More than likely, He was a toddler when He and His parents were visited by the Wise Men who presented Him with the gifts fit for the King that He is.  He listened to and taught His elders the Word of God in the temple as a pre-teen…until His earthly parents came and took Him back home.  He lived under their authority, as most children do, and learned His earthly father’s trade.

     The Bible is silent about the years from 12 to 30 when he began His ministry, but it does say, “He grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and Men.” When He began traveling with the apostles, preaching salvation for anyone who would follow Him, we know He did things we can all relate to, like going to weddings, funerals and paying taxes.  But He did some pretty amazing things, too.  He healed the sick, made a dead man live again, and forgave a prostitute of her past.

     The night before He died a most brutal and humiliating death, He wept and prayed for those who believed in His message.  But not just those who knew Him when He walked on earth–for all of us today who claim Him as our Savior.  Even then, in His most trying time, He thought of us.  After He died on the cross, He was buried in a borrowed grave–not something usually associated with a King.

    However, just as He didn’t stay a baby in the manger, or suffering on the cross…the grave couldn’t hold Him either.  After 3 days, He lived again, and remains alive through His Spirit that lives in every believer’s heart.

     Jesus was born to die…and to live again.  And, He did it all for us.  All we have to do is believe…to accept the greatest Gift from the greatest Giver.  Jesus isn’t just the Reason for the Season— He’s the ultimate Man for all Seasons…for all times, for all people, everywhere.  No matter who you are or what you’ve done.

     More than just a man, He is Emmanuel– “God with us”.  He is the Beginning and the End, and time is in His hands.

     So, what did you do with Jesus?  What will you do with Him in the New Year?  Whether you get to know Him at the cradle, at the foot of the cross, or someplace in between, it doesn’t matter…He knocks—patiently waiting for you to open your heart to Him.

     Merry Christmas!      

 “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”-        John 20:31

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