From the Manger to the Tomb

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nativity set LINK pd

I have now packed away our Christmas decorations for another season. However, one thing caught my attention in a special way as I was putting away our nativity scene.  At Christmas I read about Mary wrapping Jesus as a baby in swaddling cloths and lying him in a manger.  (see Luke 2:7 NKJV) The next time I read of Jesus being wrapped up is when Joseph of Arimathea wrapped his body in linen grave cloths and laid it in a tomb.  (see Luke 23:53)  Big changes took place in the life of Jesus between the time when Luke records the Christmas story and the Easter story:  a baby to a man – swaddling cloths to grave cloths – a manger to a tomb!  I ask myself, does my understanding of Jesus allow him to grow up? Do I look beyond the manger to the cross and even beyond the cross?

Jesus did not stay a tiny baby.  He was soon kicking off his swaddling blankets and crawling around the feet of Mary and Joseph rather than just being held in their arms.  The only thing scripture that really tells me about Jesus growing up is Luke 2:52, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”  The next thing I read about Jesus is his baptism and ministry when he is 30 years old.  Three years later Jesus is again wrapped up, but this time it is after he has died on the cross. Jesus kicked off these grave cloths three days later at his resurrection.  Jesus grew up during those 33 years.  He could not have died as my savior as a baby; He had to grow up.

Now I have to ask myself another question.  Am I too wrapped up in my daily life to take time to grow in my relationship with Jesus?  Do I keep Him wrapped up in swaddling cloths as a baby?  If I desire to grow in my relationship with Jesus, how do I do it?  It is interesting to note the difference in the way I am able to grow spiritually and how I grow physically.  When a baby grows physically, he or she grows bigger and becomes more independent.  In order to grow spiritually, one grows smaller and becomes more dependent.  John the Baptist says in John 3:30 NKJV, “He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease.”  If I am to grow up spiritually I must become smaller in how I perceive myself.  I must think less about what I can achieve and more about how I can glorify God.  This is the only possible way for Jesus to grow in me.

My Reader, I ask you, at what age does Jesus live in your heart?  It is fun to celebrate Christmas, and indeed we should celebrate the birth of Jesus.   However, do not let Jesus stay a baby.  Allow Him to grow up by growing in your faith.  A baby must be fed to grow, so must you feed on His Word in order to grow in your knowledge of Him.  God’s Word can be both milk for spiritual infants and meat for men, so feed on the Word.  (see Hebrews 5:12-14)  As you allow your understanding of Jesus to grow from his being an infant to being a man, you too will grow spiritually. Then He will be able to live more powerfully in you.  In fact, the resurrection power that allowed Jesus to throw off His burial cloths will be available to you.  (see Philippians 3:10)



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