Posts Tagged ‘Manger’

Manger and the Cross

A NATIVITY PLAY – FROM THE MANGER TO THE CROSS (© Written by Ross Cochrane 2018) 

PASTOR: Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, of course, but some years ago I remember a woman saying to me, “Without the manger, there would have been no Cross and no Salvation” 

So it made me think about the SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES of CHRISTMAS AND EASTER. Christmas – the BIRTH of Christ. Easter – the DEATH of Christ. 

ANGEL 1: So over here we have the MANGER. (Spotlight – Mary, and Joseph beside Jesus in the Manger. Angel stands behind them) 

ANGEL 2And over here we have the CROSS (Spotlight – Angel stands beside a large Cross) 

PASTOR: 

  1. WITHOUT CHRISTMAS AND EASTER WE WOULD HAVE NO HOPE OF HEAVEN. 

MARY (at the manger): SO JESUS IS GOD’S GIFT FROM HEAVEN… 

JOSEPH (at the manger):  AND HEAVEN IS JESUS’ GIFT TO US  

ANGEL 1 (at the manger): Romans 6:23 in the Bible says “…the GIFT of God is ETERNAL LIFE through Jesus Christ our Lord” DO YOU KNOW HIM? (Said to the audience) 

PASTOR: 

So without Christmas or the Cross, there would be no hope of heaven. 

2. AND SECONDLY, CHRISTMAS AND THE CROSS SPEAK OF OUR NEED TO FIND CHRIST  

WISE MAN 1 (at the manger): I am one of the MAGI, or as you know us “The Wise Men” and we followed God’s directions intentionally and found Christ in a house some time after He was born. We searched for Him and in finding Him, we also found faith and hope.  

FOOLISH MAN (At the Cross): I was one of the FOOLISH MEN who  jeered at Him and rejected Him at His death. I was once lost and needed to find forgiveness. Yet Jesus said on the Cross, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” He still offers His forgiveness for our sins.  

ALL OF US NEED TO FIND JESUS, BUT OUR SIN GETS IN THE WAY. 

PASTOR: 

To solve this problem we need the help of the one who was BORN TO BE SAVIOUR. That’s the point of the story of Christmas and the story of the Cross. 
3. SO THIRDLY, CHRISTMAS AND THE CROSS SPEAKS OF CHRIST AS OUR SAVIOUR 

ANGEL1 (at the manger) I was one of the ANGELS who appeared to the Shepherds and declared the birth of the SAVIOUR.  

ANGEL 2 (at the Cross): Yes, and I was one of the ANGELS at the tomb who appeared to the women and declared He is RISEN. The Bible says “Death no longer has any power over Him.”  

He SAVES you by paying the price for your sin. 

SHEPHERD (at the manger): I was one of the Shepherds. We RAN TO FIND HIM in the manger just after His birth. It was so appropriate that Shepherds celebrated His birth because He was the Lamb of God, Saviour of the World.  

PETER (at the Cross): I am Peter, one of Jesus disciples. I acted very differently. At His death, jeering crowds gathered around Jesus and I ABANDONED Him, the sinless LAMB OF GOD who takes away the sin of the world. Yet, now I realise, He was wounded for my transgressions. 

PASTOR: Yes, Christmas and the Cross speak of Christ as our Saviour. 

4. But FOURTHLY, CHRISTMAS AND THE CROSS SPEAK OF OUR NEED TO RESPOND TO CHRIST IN FAITH 

MARY (at the manger): Yes, FAITH SPEAKS ABOUT FILLING UP AN EMPTY SPACE IN OUR LIVES THAT BELONGS TO JESUS.  

But just before Jesus was born there was NO ROOM for Him at the Inn and we had to LAY HIM IN A BORROWED MANGER.  

JOSEPH OF ARAMATHEA (at the cross): I am Joseph of Aramathea. At the end of His life there was NO ROOM for Him so we LAID HIM IN A BORROWED TOMB. My tomb. 

MARY (at the manger): Yet JESUS INVITES US TO MAKE ROOM FOR HIM IN OUR HEARTS AND LIVES. THAT’S CALLED ‘FAITH’ – MAKING ROOM FOR HIM. HAVE YOU MADE ROOM FOR HIM? 

SOLDIER (at the Cross): I remember that at His death, a strange Darkness fell on the earth to COVER HIM. Not even a star in the sky. 

WISE MAN 2 (at the manger): Yet at his birth, A STAR shone brightly to direct me and my fellow Wise Men to Him and REVEAL HIM. WISE MEN STILL SEEK JESUS. DO YOU SEEK JESUS TODAY? 

JOSEPH (at the Manger): How amazing that Jesus was BORN into our family. Our Son. I am just a simple carpenter and I taught Him my skills. 

ANGEL 2: (at the Cross): Yes, and Jesus was also the Son of God, He died so that you could be BORN AGAIN into His family, THE FAMILY OF GOD, as God’s sons and daughters. His heavenly Father is also a skilled craftsman. Jesus said “I came to do My Fathers business”. He’s still the Carpenter. He came to shape your lives. 

ANGEL 1 (at the manger): He is the Alpha  

ANGEL 2 (at the Cross): …and the Omega.  

ANGEL 1 (at the manger): He is the Beginning  

ANGEL 2 (at the Cross): …and the end. 

MARY (at the manger): Born in a manger, Born that we might be born again. Immanuel – God with us. 

PETER (at the Cross): Died on a cross. Died that we may never die. Saviour from our sins. 

BOTH ANGELS: He who Is and Was and Is to come. The great I Am. 

ALL: King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Our Lord Jesus. 

PASTOR:  

DO YOU KNOW HIM? I INVITE YOU TO SAY THIS PRAYER AFTER ME AND INVITE HIM INTO YOUR HEART AND LIFE THIS CHRISTMAS. 

Repeat this prayer as I pray out loud. Let’s all pray. 

Jesus, thank you for coming to this world as a baby,  

living a perfect life  

and dying on the cross for me,  

so that I can be forgiven.   

Thank you that you came back to life  

and proved that your death was enough 

to pay for my sin.   

Jesus, please forgive me.   

I now receive your offer of forgiveness  

and I put my hope and trust in you  

as my Saviour and Lord.  

Thank You for your gift of eternal life.  

Thank You for giving me an amazing life here and now 

And one day I will be with You in heaven forever.   

AMEN … 

If you did receive Jesus as your Lord and Saviour today, would you let me know?  It would bring great joy to me to hear how you have been made right with God.   

Pastor Ross 

LOST TWICE FOR THREE DAYS – CHRISTMAS

FROM THE MANGER TO THE CROSS

FROM THE MANGER TO THE CROSS

 

FROM THE MANGER TO THE CROSS

It struck me as Pastor Brian Houston was speaking at the Christmas Eve Service that for 3 days Mary lost her Son when He was 12 and for 3 days she lost Him again when He was 33. Both times He was “about His Fathers business” (Luke 2:42-51 NLT). Mary was present for His birth and present at His death. We celebrate both Christmas and Easter so as not to miss the significance of His birth and His death.

At the Beginning of His life there was no room for Him at the Inn and He was laid in a borrowed manger. At the end of His life there was no room for Him so they laid Him in a borrowed tomb. Followers of Christ make room for Him in their lives.

At His birth lowly Shepherds came. At His death the great Shepherd was abandoned, yet He said “I am the Good shepherd; I know My own sheep, and they know Me, … So I sacrifice My life for the sheep” (John 10:11-15 NLT).

At the beginning innocent babies were killed. At the end of His life guilty thieves died with Him on the Cross. The Bible says “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23 NLT).

Wise men followed God’s directions intentionally after He was born. Foolish men knew not what they were doing at His death. Yet in Luke 23:34 (NLT) Jesus says, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” He still offers His forgiveness for our sins.

He was visited by shepherds at His birth. Disciples abandoned Him at His death. It takes commitment to be a follower of Jesus.

Herod tried to put Him to death at His birth. Pilate tried to save Him from death at His trial, but ended up washing his hands of Him. All of us are given a choice concerning what we will do with Jesus.

Wise men acknowledged Him as King soon after He was born. At the end of His life foolish men put Him on a Cross with a sign they thought was mocking Him as King of the Jews. Yet Revelation 17:14 (NLT) calls Him “… Lord of all lords and King of all kings…” Followers of Christ acknowledge His rulership in their lives.

After His birth wise men gave generously to Jesus. At His death the religious rulers gave Judas “thirty pieces of silver” to betray Him (Matthew 26:15 NLT). Matthew 16:26 (NLT) says “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”

Wise men invested their wealth as they gave it to Jesus. At His crucifixion foolish soldiers “gambled for His clothes” at the Cross Luke 23:34 (NLT) concerned only with taking. Jesus said “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35 NLT).

A star shone at His birth. He was the light of the world at His death. God still directs us to Him.

Angels at His birth spoke of a Saviour. Angels at the tomb said He is risen. Romans 6:9 (NLT) says “Death no longer has any power over Him.”

Jesus was born into the family of Abraham, ancestor of King David. He died so that we could be born again into His family.

At His Conception the Holy Spirit came upon Mary. At the conception of the Church the Holy Spirit came upon 120 disciples in an upper room. Zacharias was speechless before Jesus was born. Peter preached a powerful message after Jesus rose again (Acts 2). With the help of the Holy Spirit we can share the message of Christ boldly.

At His birth He is called Immanuel “God with us”. After His death Hebrews 13:5 says God will “never leave You or forsake You”

He is the Alpha and Omega. The Beginning and the end. Saviour, Born that we may never die. He who Is and Was and Is to come. The great I Am. Born in a manger, died on a cross. Born that I might be born again. Immanuel, God with us. King of Kings, Lord of Lords, My Lord Jesus.

Pastor Ross

 

LUKE 2:9 – MARY DID YOU KNOW? Poem

PIETA BY MICHELANGELO

PIETA BY MICHELANGELO

Mary, did you know? – the poem © by Ross Cochrane

Had Mary known the pain that He would bear
When in her arms this baby Jesus lay,
Would she have wanted Him to stay
to face a Cross, and give His very life?
Had Mary known the ugliness of strife
would she have held tiny hands tighter still
while thinking of them nail pierced on deaths hill?

Had Mary known that in this manger lay
the One whose head would lay within a tomb,
would she have gasped each time she came to pray
and sung with tears a lullaby each night
And mourned the seed that issued from her womb?

No! Mary would have only known the joy
Of heavens love within a baby boy.

And if we knew of God’s elusive plan
With eyes to see the pain that we would bear,
Would we have tried to run from grace and prayer
instead of face the cross He bids us take?
Without sufficient strength our pride to break
would we avoid the shaping hands of God,
the disciplines that issue from His rod?

Would we receive the testing desert sun
along with times of joy and hope and light?
Or shape a “painless” destiny and run
with such swift feet away from heaven’s tears
and any preparation for the fight?

No! From the future He has spared us much
That we might know His patient, perfect touch.

Part 4 – Genesis 22:1-19 – CHRISTMAS IN THE FIRE!

Living Sacrifice

His weather worn face looked like ancient parchment stretched over a wire mesh skeleton and his eyes, haunted with memories, looked straight through me into my soul. As I gave my devotion that day I could tell that he understood the anguish Abraham must have felt as God said, “Take your son, your only son-yes, Isaac, whom you love so much-and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.” (Genesis 22:2 NLT)

I asked him later if he was spending time with his family this Christmas. He pointed to the two drawings above his chair on the wall. Simply framed crayon drawings, pastel colours, a boy and girl. He said simply and in a half whispered voice which only slightly betrayed the emotion he held at bay “My children. Both of them died of cancer.” He had outlived his family and somehow in the aftermath of his loss and grief, I could still see the remnants of faith, tested but still intact and with a depth that only occurs in the fires of experience.

Why would God ask Abraham to do such a gruesome thing and why did Abraham obey right up to the moment that God stops him from carrying this through? Is this a picture of absolute surrender to God or the kind of RELIGIOUS FANATICISM that has no emotions and just obeys with robotic obedience? This passage is graphic and startling in it’s implications for me! There’s no Christmas sleighbells and FEELGOOD music accompanying this scene.

Remarkably, Abraham’s faith is still intact. He still believes the promise of God. It must have seemed like Christmas when God had said, “… for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” (Genesis 15:4 NLT) and that “… All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:3 NLT). And Hebrews 11:19 (NLT) says “Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again …”

With the noises of the world around me, my problem is hearing God speak in the first place, let alone audibly, but if He said this to me I don’t think I could have done it? I would still be asking, “Lord, is that really You?” I would put it down to an exegesis problem. “You don’t really mean sacrifice. You mean bless, not sacrifice, don’t You, Lord? Lord, what are you thinking?” Where would I draw the line? Would I begin to water down what God is saying rather than come under His authority?

The test this Christmas is to love God and put Him FIRST in my life today. And I’m not talking about gooing and garing over the baby in the manger. The invitation this Christmas is not only to come let us ADORE Him, but also to ask the all important question “Why did He come?” My mind sweeps down through the corridors of time and I see not only a MANGER but a CROSS.

Isaac couldn’t be a sacrifice for my sin! No-one can pay the penalty of my sin but Christ alone, the innocent Lamb of God. Christmas declares that “… He (Jesus) will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21 NLT). The challenge this Christmas is to accept the gift He offers of forgiveness and salvation.

When God provided a ram for Abraham to sacrifice instead of Isaac they must have understood another awesome truth. As they stood by the fire that day Abraham saw Isaac as a LIVING SACRIFICE. Life for both Abraham and Isaac would always be seen through the eyes of that sacrifice. CHRISTMAS IN THE FIRE!

Isaac tells me that I am to life my life as a LIVING SACRIFICE, not willing to allow my circumstances and the things I treasure most to dictate what it means to live under the authority and direction of Jesus Christ. It involves a choice to see life through the eyes of the Cross rather than through the shrunken, distorted lenses of my circumstances and the cultural pressures around me. Dying to the influences of the world and intentionally coming under the authority of God.

Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) explains “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a LIVING AND HOLY SACRIFICE-the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” 

Pastor Ross