Over two thousand years ago, in the small town of Bethlehem, a child was born. Many children were born in Bethlehem that year, but this child was unique. He was to all appearances an ordinary child, born to a young woman, and born into poverty. But this child’s father was God. Nine months prior to his birth the Holy Spirit had ‘come upon’ Mary and she had conceived. This child she carried for nine months and who was then born in Bethlehem and placed in a manger, was both God and man.
But why? Why did God become a man, spend nine months in Mary’s womb; go through infancy, childhood, and adolescence; teach for a few years; and then die on a cross? Jesus was born to die: to become an atoning sacrifice for sin. Jesus was born so that through his death I might have eternal life.
Please, this Christmas, do not separate the manger from the cross. The manager, and the baby it held, only have significance because of the cross and the empty tomb. The Old Rugged Cross has just as much relevance at Christmas as Away in a Manger.