Yesterday I mentioned my friend Oswald Chambers. His wonderful devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, has been an insightful companion of mine since college. On November 26, his scripture was “…except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Galatians 6:14).
I admit, I wasn’t in the mood for it. Who wants to think of the cross while preparing to enter Advent season? I like to keep my seasons separate, and I was busy pumping up my Christmas vibes. I wanted to mull over the incarnation, the divine conception, or the star, but not the cross.
What does the crucifixion have to do with Advent?
Paul warns us to preach “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:2). When we focus on the effects of Jesus – our salvation, sanctification, healing, service…etc., his power within us is muted. We must keep the spotlight on the person of Jesus Christ. The baby we celebrate came to be crucified, and therein is the power for our spiritual life: Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
We speak of the light at the end of the tunnel. Crucifixion was at the end of an earthly life for Jesus, but it wasn’t light.
During Advent, we wait with that end in sight. We wait within the scope of God’s full revelation: cradle to cross.
Let us juxtapose that image of a swaddled baby with the bleeding savior crucified, and the meaning of innocence deepens.
Babies are innocent. We hold them, wistfully mindful that they have no idea how awful this world can be. Jesus was innocent, but not in that naive sense. He was innocent, as in without guilt. His whole life glorified the father and was undeserving of death.
My two babies were not without guilt. Their selfishness was on grand display. When I wanted to sleep, they wanted to eat. When I wanted to read a book, they demanded to be held, played with, diapered – right now. They took toys from other babies. They rejected mashed peas if they wanted creamed peaches. Babies are not really innocent, not like Jesus. Jesus was swaddled in blankets. We are swaddled in our sinful nature.
So really, Advent is about the crucifixion. That innocent baby came with the purpose of carrying our sins upon his back. As I wait this year, anticipating the breaking in of redemption, I have a lot of sins to thrust upon that baby’s back, and I know he is strong enough to carry them all.