Manger, Cross, Grave, Throne :: By Grant Phillips

Christmas is only eight days away as I type these words. Most at this time of year are thinking of Christmas trees, decorations, lights, family gatherings, dinners, cookies … and, oh yes, presents! Many children are getting excited and can hardly wait. Christians enjoy these things too, but we are also enjoying special events at our local churches and thinking how blessed we all are that God sent His Son to us.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).


All of us are sinners and need a Savior. Have you ever wondered why Jesus started out on His rescue mission in a manger as a helpless baby? We all inherited a sin nature from our original parents, Adam and Eve, and when that happened, all of us also inherited a debt we cannot pay. That sin debt could only be paid by the blood sacrifice of another like us that is without sin … but there’s a problem. Everyone born from Adam and Eve is corrupted with sin, so no one could ever be qualified.

Only God is without sin, but God, as God, couldn’t be that sacrifice. Remember, the sacrifice must be of like kind, a human being, and they must be totally pure, without sin. This is why God said I will be that sacrifice by taking on human flesh and pay that debt for anyone who will accept it.

“who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:6-11).

So, at this time of the year, we celebrate God temporally laying aside His glory and becoming man, born of a virgin, and they called His name Jesus. Throughout Jesus’ earthly life, He was tempted as we are and experienced the ups and downs of being human. Yet throughout it all, He never once defiled Himself with sin. He remained pure and undefiled all the way to the cross. Even Pilate said, “I find no fault in Him” (John 19:4).

Jesus is God and is called the Son of God, but He also apparently liked to be called the Son of Man. He loved identifying with us. If anyone could have had a snooty nature, it would have to be Jesus, but He wasn’t that way at all. I don’t think we’ll ever understand His pure love until we see Him face to face. No, there was no snobbery in Jesus. Read the Gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) about Him and see for yourself.


Sad to say, I have met some folks who have their nose so uplifted, they would drown if it rained. They even call themselves Christians. A better name would be Pharisees. Whether they are or not a Christian is for God to decide, but concerning Jesus, His arms are always open to accept anyone who will come to Him. I will not rehash the horrible physical suffering Jesus endured for us, but I personally believe that when the Father had to turn away from Him at the cross, He experienced a suffering that you and I cannot comprehend.

The Holy Spirit tells us through the apostle Paul, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Jesus’ love for us took Him to the cross and kept Him on the cross until His work was done. His grace is what saves us, but if it hadn’t been for His love for us, we would not be celebrating His birth in that lowly manger.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).


In 1874, Robert Lowry wrote a hymn called “Christ Arose.” Below are the lyrics.

1. Low in the grave He lay,
Jesus, my Savior,
Waiting the coming day,
Jesus, my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes;
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

2. Vainly they watch His bed,
Jesus, my Savior;
Vainly they seal the dead,
Jesus, my Lord!

3. Death cannot keep his Prey,
Jesus, my Savior;
He tore the bars away,
Jesus, my Lord!

We should never speak of the cross and omit the grave that now stands empty. Jesus is not in the grave. Mohammad is. Confucius is. Any man-made god you want to mention is in the grave, but not the Son of God. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is alive and well in Heaven and will be returning.

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:3-6).


“Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald” (Revelation 4:2-3).

Also, please read Revelation 1:1-20. Jesus came to a manger for us. He walked to a Roman cross for us. He walked out of the grave for us. He sits now on His throne in Heaven, waiting for the Father to say something like, “Go get your bride.” His last words in the book of Revelation are, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

Grant Phillips


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