“No crib for a bed. The little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head.” In my opinion, it’s one of the sweetest Christmas carols. Small children learn and sing it; and it brings to mind the gentle and serene picture of the new family our Savior was born into on a peaceful night (whether or not it really happened that way). But I heard a sermon on heaven at church that made me think about what God’s Son really gave up to be born here on the first Christmas morning. That manger – the feeding trough for horses and cattle – became an altar. To me, now, it’s a symbol of the sacrifices of Christ.
Revelation 21 gives us the vision of heaven given to John. We know from his account that there is no death, mourning, crying or pain there. It is described as brilliant, of pure gold with a wall of jasper adorned with every kind of precious stone. The “glory of God has illumined it”. Philippians 3:21 tells us that Jesus had (and now has again) a glorified body. I long for heaven and love to picture the magnificence of it all. The presence of God is everywhere, with nothing that can hinder communication and fellowship with Him.
Jesus left all of that pure beauty to be born into this dirty, broken world. He vacated the throne of His kingdom to become an unknown child. For the first time He experienced pain, and sorrow and hunger. And He submitted to all of that loss knowing that His ultimate loss was still to come. He would experience the weight of sin (though Himself still innocent), and feel separation from God. He would die in a painful and shameful way to redeem you and me.
The cross became a symbol of Christ sacrificing His life, but I submit to you that the manger is the first symbol of His sacrifice. He gave up heaven to be an offering for our sins. But, praise God, Jesus is there once again. Preparing a place for us (John 14:3) if we only believe in that tiny babe sent to save the world.
“Bless all the dear children in thy tender care and fit us to heaven to live with thee there.”