The Crown, The Cradle and The Cross


The songs of Christmas often carry so much meaning. Well, I suppose there’s not a lot of meaning in “frosty the snowman” or in “O Tannenbaum” but those that we’ve sung this morning and more like them are flooded with meaning and with good teaching and solid theology. They help us not only to give voice to our faith and help us to worship but they also serve to teach us about our God and his word.
“Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne” is a beautiful hymn which begins with Christ in eternity past, Lord of the universe who stepped down into humility in order to redeem us. We sing the song “Silent Night” and mouth the words, “Jesus Lord at thy birth!” And we don’t always stop to recognize the oddity of the phrase. But the reality of the child in the manger is that he is the Lord. And then for instance in “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” we proclaim “God and sinners reconciled!” and we rejoice over the strains of “Born that men no more may die.” Remembering that those phrases point not merely to his Lordship but to the sacrificial death of Jesus on the Cross.
Most of the time when we open up the Bible for a Christmas story we would turn either to Matthew or Luke. Those three elements present themselves in John’s prologue to his gospel.
If you haven’t yet, please open your Bible to John 1 and read the first portion of the introduction.

The Crown

In John 1:1-3 we have one of tightest explanations of just exactly who Jesus is. He is the WORD in the text. The ancients considered the “word” or “logos” (lahgahs) to be the ultimate expression of who God is. John uses that expression to lure in the gentiles to reading this gospel. He begins by unfolding the glory of the word of God, and then in the final moment reveals that the word is more than something God produced, the word, he says, was God. As he identifies Jesus as the “word” he is painstakingly demonstrating the Deity of Jesus Christ.
Before the incarnation, Jesus was. Before the prophets, Jesus was. Before Abraham, Jesus was. Before the flood and Noah’s ark, Jesus was. In fact before the opening of Genesis 1:1, Jesus was. “In the beginning was the word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God.”
John’s gospel mirrors the book of Genesis “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” John goes on to tell us that this “Word” is the creator. “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” In other words who was it that spoke and said, “Let there be light”? It was Jesus.
Jesus is the Lord of creation.1 The Father is the Lord of Jesus because God is a God of order. But the words of God instruct us in knowing that the potentate of all the universe, the mighty king is Christ. He is the eternal God and he left that throne for you and me.

The Cradle

Turning to John 1:14 we discover that Jesus is in fact the one that is described as “The word” when we read that “the word became flesh, and dwelt among us…”
I cannot begin to fathom the humility embedded in that phrase. Timeless deity stepping into time. Unrestricted authority stepping into the role of an obedient child. Unlimited power becoming a helpless, frail baby.
Consider this: if the Lord had determined that he would be born in a modern hospital, surrounded by the presidents, kings and emperors of the world. If his nursery were layered in gold, marble tile and precious gemstones of enormous quantity and the finest silks and other fabrics were used to decorate and warm him, if all the fanfare of thirty super-bowls were lavished upon the birth of the Lord Jesus and every man, woman and child were to cheer his name as Mary gave him birth… Jesus still would have received less than he deserved.
Jesus took on even more humility than we can fathom. Born to an unknown, unspectacular young girl with a tradesman for a “father” figure. Nothing of wealth in the world, and above all born in a stable. From the Crown to the Cradle. Humility unimaginable.
A few years ago Mark Lowry wrote what became a very popular song, “Mary did you know.” It draws a wonderful focus on the God in the manger.
Just listen to the lyrics without the Music:

Mary, did you know that your baby boy Would someday walk on water
Mary, did you know that your baby boy Would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered will soon deliver you
Mary, did you know that your baby boy Will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy Would calm the sea with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you’ve kissed your little baby Then you’ve kissed the face of God!

The blind will see, the deaf will hear The dead will live again
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak The praises of the Lamb

Mary, did you know that your baby boy Is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy Will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy was heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great “I Am”?

The Cross

He left the Crown of heaven, became the baby in the cradle all for one purpose: the cross.
Look now to John 1:29, 35-36. Here the baptist identifies Jesus as The Lamb of God. That means one thing and one thing only. Jesus is the sacrifice of God and from God. He is the sacrifice on our behalf. He is God’s gift to mankind.
The message of Christmas is more than the movement of crown to cradle it is embodied in the purpose of the cross. “It is a trustworthy saying,” Paul wrote to Timothy, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…”
God became a man so that he might save you, so that he might save me. Every single person on the earth is born a sinner. Every single person deserves the death penalty for rebellion against God. Not one person could ever pay their own debt of sin towards God let alone someone else’s. Only God could pay the debt ““ and so he did.
When was Jesus the Lord? He was Lord of Eternity past wearing the crown of the universe, he was Lord in the Cradle, wrapped in swaddling cloths, he was Lord on the cross paying the penalty demanded for sin. And my friends, he is Lord today.
My question to you this morning is this: Is he YOUR LORD?
The birth of Jesus does nothing to save you, neither does his death, burial and resurrection if you will not receive him. Is Jesus your lord?
This Christmas I offer to you the gift of Jesus Christ. God has promised that if anyone will call upon the name of God through Christ Jesus than the Father will receive them.
Open the present.
Take the gift.
He who wore the crown of eternity, traded it in for a cradle so he could die in your place on the cross. For three days he lay in hidden darkness and on the third morning he rose from the dead, walked out of the tomb and later ascended to glory to sit at the Father’s right hand.
It is only through Jesus that anyone of us could possibly have a merry Christmas. Because it is Jesus himself and none other who is Lord of Christmas.
Grace to you.
Amen.