They all condemned him as worthy of death. Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him. Mark 14:64-65
As we enter Advent, I’ve been thinking of the cross more than the manger. It is the cross that saves us, not the manger. The cross is the demonstration of God’s radical love towards us. The cross is our example of the radical love we are to show others. The cross reminds us of the seriousness of sin, and Christ’s victory over it. Not the manger.
But the manger is important: While the cross shows us Christ’s humiliating death, the manger shows us His humiliating beginnings. It was a prelude to the kind of life that Jesus was to live.
Philippians 2:7-8 tells us that Jesus laid aside His divine majesty, took on the limitations of being human, and experienced the difficulties, sufferings and sorrows that all people do.
We see this in the Christmas story:
He likely endured the suspicion of being an illegitimate child. This seems to be implied in John 8:41, and 2nd century critics of Christianity made this accusation. Plus, Mary and Joseph’s friends and relatives understood simple biology and could do simple math.
He was born among commoners in anonymity in a place of little importance:
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel…” (Micah 5:2).
He was born into poverty. Mary and Joseph were too poor to offer a lamb as a temple sacrifice, so they offered two pigeons instead (Luke 2:22–24; Leviticus 12:7-8).
His family soon fled Bethlehem to live as refugees in Egypt (Matthew 2:13-18). He grew up in an area with such poverty and bad reputation that his disciple Nathaniel once said, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” (John 1:46)
His material status didn’t change during his 3 years of ministry. Jesus commented on his economic status when he said, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20).
Jesus preached from borrowed boats, multiplied borrowed food, rode into Jerusalem on a borrowed colt, and was buried in a borrowed tomb.
Jesus left his throne to live in humiliation and poverty with us, to give us His life and his friendship. This very thing is stated in 2 Corinthians 8:9:
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.