The Cross at Christmas
We are reading through the Bible together at NCC this year. This week's reading landed us in the book of Luke, where we find the most important question ever asked in Luke 7:20: “But who do you say that I am?” In one of Peter’s better moments, he answers with confidence and clarity, “The Christ of God.” Jesus then begins to expound on what that means. The next seven verses contain cheery talk of crosses and death. First, Jesus announces that he will die. Second, he challenges his followers that they, too, will be required to lose their lives.
During the season of Christmas, we embrace talk of life, joy, peace and love. We wish one another happy holidays and strive to spread goodwill to men. On greeting cards of the Nativity scene, we write prayers of hope, health, and prosperity. And yet the baby shown in that stone feeding trough for animals had come for one purpose. To die. One goal. The cross.
To proclaim him as the Christ at Christmas requires us to embrace the cross every other day of the year. Anything less is at best ignorance or at worst hypocrisy.
Everything in history moved towards the cross, and all of history since orients around it. Following Jesus does not simply mean singing some carols about angels or giving generously to a good cause or enjoying the community of family and friends. We are clearly told we must take up our cross and follow him-- so that we may lose our lives in order to find life in Him.
Let me encourage you to do a couple things over the next two days. First, take some time each day to thank Jesus for the cross. Second, consider what it means to take up your cross this Christmas. What does that look like for you?