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The 3 C’s of Christ’s Coming
Now that Christmas is upon us, maybe, just maybe, people will start being a little bit nicer to each other. Yet, unless the reason for the season, Jesus Christ, rules in our hearts, and is alive within us, then this probably won’t happen, and we’ll continue to be as cynical and complaining as we’ve ever been.
And so, the closer we get to Christmas, the sad reality becomes more evident that we’re in fact moving away from what Christmas is all about, rather than closer to its intended meaning.
But before we let Christmas slip by us, I’d like to focus on three signs, or what I’d like to call, “The 3 C’s of Christ’s Coming,” because they will help us better understand who Jesus is, and what He came to do.
But let’s start by taking a look at our text in Philippians, because here the Apostle Paul describes these three C’s for us.
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 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 2:511 NKJV)
Consider the dichotomy of Jesus and His coming. He is the Lord God, but became a human. He was appointed to be humanity’s Savior, but was crucified by His creation, that is, humans. He is the ultimate judge, yet was led away and died as a felon. He died, was buried, but is still alive. He had no sin, but died with all of our sins laid upon Him. He is the King of the Jews, but His only crown was that of thorns. He was the light of life, but died on Calvary. And while He was the victim of the cross, He was victorious over the grave.
And so, with Paul’s message about the coming of Jesus, and the dichotomies that we just look at when we look at His coming, what are the 3 C’s or these three signs of Jesus’s coming?
“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.” (Philippians 2:6-7 NKJV)
Actually, this wasn’t a cradle as we associate it with the word. In other words, none of that rock-a-bye baby stuff, that is, if a hyneria is what we are looking for. What it was called is a manger, which in Israel was one big stone hewed out to be a feeding trough for animals. And into this cold stone feeding trough they laid God’s Christmas present to all humanity.
You see, Christmas is the birthday celebration of Jesus Christ, and Jesus is God’s present to us. Christmas is when God came to this earth as Emmanuel, which means, “God with us,” so that He could communicate with us.
A farmer decided to stay home on Christmas Eve while his wife and kids went to church. To him, Christmas was just a big myth. But as he was watching TV, he glanced out the window and noticed that it began to snow, but as he continue to look he saw a flock of birds, with some lying dead in the snow.
He grabbed his jacket and went outside to see what he could do. He opened the barn door and turned on the light and heat, hoping the birds would see the light and fly in. But when that didn’t work, he grabbed a blanket and tried to shoo them in, but this only frightened and scattered them more.
Then he realized that the only way to get the birds to go into the barn would be to find a way to communicate with them. And then he realized that if he could get another bird to fly into the barn to show the rest the way, then they would be saved.
Then came the thought that rocked his world. It’s what his wife had been trying to tell him all along. In order to bring the message of salvation to us, God needed to become one of us, to communicate to us and to show us the way. Finally the impact of the Christmas cradle and God coming as a human baby made sense.
This is the Christmas story.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 NKJV)
In this verse lies the heart of Christmas, and it was the sign given by the angel to the shepherds that night of Jesus’s birth.
The angel said, “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:11-12 NKJV)
And so, the shepherds were called to the cradle, but what we also need to understand is that these were no ordinary shepherds. These were temple shepherds in charge of those sheep that were to be sacrifice in the temple. These sheep would be without spot or blemish and were very valuable. Those in charge of these sheep had the responsibility of making sure nothing happened to them.
But hearing what the angel said, they rushed off leaving the sheep behind to fend for themselves so that they, the shepherds, could find the Lamb of God. And after they found the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger, they went out and told everyone what happened, and it says the people were amazed.
Seeing who they were, I’ve always wondered what they told the people? Was it what the angel said, or did they see the significance between their work and this baby. Again these shepherds were in charge of the sheep that were to be sacrificed, and now these shepherds were sent by the angel to witness the birth of the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world through the sacrifice He would make.
I wonder; did they put these two things together? The Bible says that all these things were an example, a foreshadowing of something greater yet to come, and that the sacrificial system was a foretaste of God’s final sacrifice.
And so, on that Christmas morning, lying in a cradle, God’s lamb appeared, and the need for the daily sacrifice would soon come to an end. And as we move away from the cradle, we get a glimpse of what comes next, but what we need to understand is that it all started in the cradle.
Maybe we can look at it this way, the cradle is the Introduction to a book, which is meant to be read first, but alone doesn’t tell the whole story. But you can’t really understand the rest of the story unless you read it. So it is with the cradle. We must understand the significance of the Cradle to appreciate the next sign, or the 2nd ‘C.’
So here in the manger, here in this cradle lies Emmanuel, God with us. Here in this cradle lays God’s gift to humanity. Here in this cradle lays the perfect sacrificial lamb. Here in this cradle lays the 2nd person of the Godhead as a baby born to die, which brings us to the 2nd ‘C.’
“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.” (Philippians 2:8 NKJV)
This is the main body of the story. The baby born in the manger grew up to become the sacrifice for our sins. The baby Jesus asleep on the hay became the sacrifice on the cross.
Jesus was the sacrificial lamb giving His life for us when He died on the cross. So the cradle points to the cross. The mission of the cross is hidden then in the message of the cradle, or as someone once said, “Christ’s birth brought God to man; and Christ’s death brings man to God.”
The Bible records Jesus’s final words on the cross when He cried out, “It is finished.” What was finished? The term Jesus used was a common phrase used in the economics of that day. When someone would pay back what they owed, this word would appear declaring the debt had been paid in full.
When Jesus died upon the cross, He paid the price for us. He paid our debt, the debt of sin. Jesus took all our sins and stamped across them, “Paid in Full.” The Bible says that the wages of sin is death, and there is no one who is righteous enough to make it into heaven on their own. Therefore, because of our sin, someone had to pay the price.
There is a story about a Tibetan rule who declared that anyone caught stealing would have their hand cut off. Well, one day the guards brought an old woman before him. He said, “You have been found guilty of stealing and the penalty is for you to lose your hand. I cannot change the verdict even though you are my mother. But I am willing to pay the price for you.”
His only choice in order to save her was to substitute himself for the one he loved. If he would have let her go without paying the penalty, he would no longer be able to rule justly.
That’s precisely what happened on the cross. You see, each one of us have violated God’s righteous and holy standards for life. And because God is just, the penalty for that violation has to be paid. So, God sent His son, Jesus to be that payment for our sins. Jesus died on the cross as our substitute. He paid the price with His life.
Jesus came to redeem us, and therefore, like the sign of the Cradle, the sign of the cross is simple yet profound.
Jesus was born under the shadow of the Cross; the cruelest form of death ever devised. Here suspended between heaven and earth, the victim of the Cross looked forward to death to relieve the pain and suffering.
The cross loomed before Jesus as His greatest challenge. He didn’t look forward to it. In fact, He asked the Father if it was possible to let this cup, that is, let this death, pass by Him. But there was no other solution to the problem of sin, so He resigned Himself to the will of His Heavenly Father and died upon the cross.
The writer of Hebrews stated it this way. “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2 NKJV)
And it then the last part of this verse leads us to the last sign of Christ’s coming, or the 3rd ‘C.’
“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 … (and) every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 9-11)
If the Cradle was the introduction to the story, and the Cross the body, then the Crown is the conclusion and climax of the story.
What I found interesting is that the word, “Hallelujah,” doesn’t appear in the New Testament until the 19th chapter of the book of Revelation. It is amazing but also insightful, because it isn’t used until right before Jesus’s return. After the final judgment is poured out upon planet earth the great multitude in heaven sings out His praise.
“Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God!” (Revelation 19:1 NKJV)
And then we come to the great climax of all history, the unveiling of Jesus in power and glory. It is probably the most prophesied event in the entire Bible. The Apostle Paul calls it, “The splendor of His coming.” (2 Thessalonians 2:8 NKJV)
“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns.” (Revelation 19:11-12a NKJV)
The King of Christmas will judge in perfect justice. Jesus will make all wrongs right. He is the faithful and true witness who will judge all people, and no one will be able to stand before Him with any excuses. Jesus knows all and will judge everyone.
And then upon His return we see written on His robe these words, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” (Revelation 19:16b NKJV)
And so the Baby in the Cradle has become the Christ of the Cross, who is now both King and Judge over the whole of Creation.
And so we need to ask ourselves, “Are we ready to meet the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords?” Remember, the words found in out text.
“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.” (Revelation 2:10-11 NKJV)
In the well known hymn that we sang this morning, “All Hail the Power of Jesus Name,” it says,
“All hail the power of Jesus name; let angel’s prostrate fall.
Bring forth the royal diadem; and crown Him Lord of all.”
And then in another worship song we sang a mix of two hymn, “Worthy is the Lamb, and then “Crown Him with Many Crowns.”
The lyrics of the second say,
“Crown Him with many crowns; The Lamb upon His throne.
Hark, how the heavenly anthem drowns: All music but its own.
Awake my soul and sing: of Him who died for thee.
And hail Him as thy matchless king: Through all eternity.”
• If anyone is searching for Jesus, they need not look for him in the cradle, because the cradle is empty.
• If anyone is searching for Jesus, they don’t need to look for Him at the cross, because He is no longer there.
• If anyone is searching for Jesus, they also don’t need to look inside the tomb, because He has risen and is alive.
• Therefore, if anyone is searching for Jesus, they need to look towards heaven where He is at the right hand of the Father.
Jesus came as a baby to the Cradle, but now He wears the crown as King. The cross was once an object of shame, but now because of Jesus’s death, it has become the symbol of glory.
And so, are we ready to meet Jesus, and are we living for His return?
Jesus said that when He, the Son of Man, returns, will He find faith (Luke 18:8)? Or, we could say it like this; will we be faithful to the end?
Wednesday Evening Bible Study