Behind the manger

But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. — Isaiah 53:5

In Old Town Albuquerque, New Mexico, there is a craftsman who carves beautiful things out of wood. Among his works are some unique manger scenes, unlike most you’ll find elsewhere.

You see, each of these pieces – when looked at head on – appear to be a typical scene of Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus, and a few other characters you usually see. But as you begin to turn the manger scenes, each carved from a single block of wood, the uniqueness is revealed.

Just around the corner, behind the manger scene, is a carving of the cross where that same baby, once He grew into a man, was crucified for our sins.

There is a beautiful symbolism in that, and it reflects the reality of what Isaiah prophesied in today’s verse.

While the manger and the story of Christmas create a heartwarming picture of God’s love for us, it is only meaningful in light of what was to come. The purpose of the Christ child was to grow into a man who lived a perfect life and died on the cross to pay for the sins of the world.

As you meditate on the nativity this advent, remember that just around the corner is the cross. Jesus was pierced and crushed for our sins, and through the punishment He took on our behalf we can have peace with God.

Prayer Challenge

Ask God to prepare your heart to celebrate not only the coming of Christ at Christmas, but also the peace you have because of His sacrifice on the cross.

Questions for thought

Do you have a favorite nativity set you like to display each Christmas season? What makes it special?

Why do you think it is important to connect the story of Christmas with the greater story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection?