“. . . I am a King. In fact, for this reason was I born.” (John 18:37)
The celebration of Jesus’ birth has been separated from His life and especially from His death. Our Lord’s birth in Bethlehem is still a celebration tolerated commercially and privately. Christmas at the Malls and behind the walls of churches and homes is acceptable to the present world system, as long as it goes no further. The cradle, isolated from Christ’s life, can be controlled and kept out of public life. But join the cradle to His mission and execution and the world reacts.
Yet Jesus did this very thing. In fact, the only time He is recorded in Scripture as speaking of His birth was on the day of His death. This reference found in John 18:37 came in a statement made to Pilate only hours before His crucifixion. From the political prospective Jesus’ claim sealed His fate. Our Lord, however, in bringing the cradle and cross together revealed the true reason for coming and cause of His execution. Born a King, He would die to carry out the sovereign plan of God.
At nine o’clock on good Friday morning it seemed His claim to be King would die with Him, as He was lifted up on Rome’s cross. Nevertheless this, His crucifixion, was not the end but rather it was the beginning of His reign. Paul, the apostle, looking back on this hour wrote:
. . .he humbled Himself and became obedient
To death-even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place
And gave Him the name that is above every name
That at the name of Jesus every
Knee should bow. . . Philippians 2:8, 9
His words to Pilate on the day of His death predicted and confirmed what His execution would accomplish. The promise of Christmas was realized by His cross. Together they testify to the truth. Born a King in Bethlehem=s stable cave, He gained the throne at Calvary.
Why? Why would God who created the universe, who rules the universe, allow Himself to be born a King that had to die on a cross to gain His Kingdom? Simon Peter tells us why:
You will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. II Peter 1:11
He was born a King, and died on a cross to establish a Kingdom that could include you and me. Let us then celebrate Christmas, the coming of the King while always looking beyond the cradle to the cross that gained a Kingdom we can enter.
Dr. James O. Rose
Bible teacher, Conference Speaker, Austin, TX