When we think of the Christmas story, we often picture baby Jesus lying in a manger. However, the message of the cross is also in the Christmas story. It’s revealed in Jesus’ genealogy.
When we stop and think about the message of the cross, we see the gift was wrapped in swaddling clothes on Christmas and was given to all humanity at Calvary. It displays God’s insane generosity extended to a guilty humanity.
The Message of the Cross | Foolishness or Power?
1 Corinthians 1:18
- “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
The message of the cross is not logical. It isn’t logical for the Creator of all things to humble Himself, come down to earth as a helpless baby, and willingly die on the cross 33 years later for a rebellious humanity that was enmity with Him.
By nature, we were born enemies of God. By nature, we only think of ourselves. We were born “of the world.” This is why Jesus said we must be born again by the Spirit. To receive a gift from our enemy seems foolish.
- “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’”—John 3:3, 5-6
- “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.”—Romans 8:7
- “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”—Romans 5:8
However, we have been redeemed and restored because of God’s generosity at Calvary. We have been given a new name, a new life, and new beginnings.
- “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”—Galatians 2:20
- “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”—John 5:24
- “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”—John 10:28
The message of the cross is insanity. It is foolishness to those that are perishing. But unto us who are being saved, it's the power of God.
Why Is the Message of the Cross Foolishness?
Logic says that because we are the ones who have sinned, we must work to pay the price for those sins so that we can get to God. Or… we see ourselves as “gods” in our own worlds and therefore don’t need a Savior, and we get to determine the rules.
Every faith system and religion—every “ism”—has a message of “work your way to heaven.”. They all have roots in the same false and burdensome theology…
- It is up to us to be good enough and mark the things off our lists that we’ve done well, hoping we did enough to appease God and earn His love and obtain salvation.
- It is up to us to create the life we want and work hard to get there with total dependence on the self rather than a Savior.
The problem with this is it is a bait-and-switch tactic from the enemy.
- You get sucked into pride, thinking you are good enough and therefore do not need a Savior.
- You get sucked into doubt and unbelief, thinking you will get it right and, therefore, can never accept a Savior.
The enemy wants you to oscillate between these two lies so that you never focus on the truth and the message of the cross. If Satan can keep you running in circles, bouncing from pride to doubt and unbelief, then the cross will sound foolish. How can you possibly achieve something that requires perfection?
He wants you to think the required perfection is personal achievement. He’s got foolish thinkers conned into focusing on the wrong person. The perfection isn’t yours; it’s Jesus’.
Why Is the Message of the Cross the Power of God?
Biblical Christianity carries the message of God’s power to save. It says, “On Calvary’s cross, Jesus did all the work for you. You can't work your way into heaven because it's not what you do for God. It's what God has done for you.”
This is the gospel.
- “For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourself, it is a gift of God, not of works. Lest anyone should boast.”
The gospel is about a gift; it is not a reward for being good. Rewards are earned.
Heaven is not a reward for being good. It is a gift for being guilty. A gift is something given; you simply must receive it by faith.
A Generous Gift Given to the Guilty
Do you feel compelled to give a gift to someone who has treated you poorly? Likely no. This is why the message of the cross is insanely generous. This is God’s heart—to give His Son so the guilty could be forgiven and receive eternal life.
And we can choose the insanity of generosity because Jesus gave so generously to us. Jesus gave all He had for all of us. He traded a throne in heaven for a trough in a barn.
The Nativity Story Is in the Genealogy
The message of the cross is displayed in Jesus's genealogy.
At Christmas, we see nativity sets out in yards, or we set them up in our homes. The Christmas story centers around the nativity. However, when studying God’s Word, you find the Christmas story hidden in Jesus’ genealogy.
When you read the Christmas narrative in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, they begin with genealogy, not a baby in a manger. Why? Because there would be no baby without genealogy.
It Started with a Promise
- “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”—Genesis 3:15
- “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”—Genesis 12:2-3
- “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is Christ.”—Galatians 3:16
God promised that one day the Anointed One, the Promised Seed of Abraham, would come to reverse the curse of Adam's sin. Through Abraham’s seed and lineage, all families of the earth would be blessed. This is why Jesus said, “Salvation is of the Jews.”
God had to establish a lineage, a genealogy, to give credence to who the real Messiah was. Otherwise, anyone could claim the title. And many have. Jesus said there would be many false Christs. However, they wouldn’t have the genealogy God prophesied to back their claims.
The Bible tells us that the Jews gave us our Savior. But Jesus didn't come only to save the Jews. Instead, it was through the Jews that the Savior would come to one day redeem all people and all of creation. God’s covenant with Abraham began the lineage that would eventually give us the baby in a manger.
- Luke 3 gives us Jesus’ genealogy back to Adam. Luke’s gospel was written to Gentiles and traced the genealogy back to Adam, the father of the human race.
- Mathew 1 gives us the genealogy back to Abraham. Matthew’s gospel was written to the Jewish people. They understood Abraham as the father of the Jewish people and the significance of his lineage.
As you read the Christmas story this year, start with Jesus’ genealogy and connect it to the message of the cross. This helps tie the reality of the resurrection to the message of the manger and the lineage that proves Jesus was the fulfillment of a promise.
Want to stay focused on the real reason for Christmas? Check out our FREE 4-part Christmas video devotional and connect to the true wonder of the Christmas story.