Today is Christmas, which means everywhere around the world, people are looking for Jesus in a manger.
There’s nothing wrong with that. The shepherds and magi both looked for Jesus there, so why can’t we? The Virgin Birth is pivotal to our understanding (and glorification) of Jesus, just like the Resurrection is.
But we shouldn’t stop there.
We should continue looking for Him past the manger, past the shepherds, and past the cute little nativity scenes that are on just about every street corner in America.
We need to look for Him where he wanted to be found – and the horse barn in Bethlehem was only the beginning.
Looking for Jesus in His Miracles
The miracles of Jesus provide unparalleled support for who He is and who He claimed to be.
In the very first miracle that Jesus ever performed — the turning of the water into wine in Cana — nobody really gave much thought to him. The wedding party had run out of drink, and nobody really thought to ask Jesus for help.
Everyone that is, except for His mom.
Mary walked up to Jesus and informed him of the situation, and Jesus obliged to help out the situation.
From that point forward though, everyone knew about His miracles.
By the time you get to the end of His ministry, John states His miracles are so numerous that entire libraries won’t be able to hold all the recordings of the things that Jesus did. We only have 35 of them in the Gospels, but there were undoubtedly thousands more.
Nicodemus expressed one of the first realizations to Jesus’ power, when he told Jesus in John 3:2 that “No Man can do these things unless God is with him.”
Do you believe that?
Not everybody will. Many will reject those miracles — presumably because of their pride (Matthew 11:20-30).
Don’t let yourself be one of them.
Looking for Jesus in His Teachings
Jesus has always been a teacher. One of the very first things we know about him was that he consumed himself with all manner of teachings — parables, metaphors, instructions, warnings, and much more.
As a matter fact, when Jesus was still a child, he stayed behind in Jerusalem for a bit of Q&A with some of the greatest religious minds of the day.
By contrast, when I was 12 years old, I was just finishing my Pokémon collection. Not quite the same thing, but I’m still proud of it to this day.
Jesus’ teachings were so profound that He was able to amass an enormous following in a relatively brief period of time.
Nearly everyone seemed to be drawn to him, even the ones that were supposed to arrest him (John 7:40–46).
If we’ll take the time to actually hear what Jesus has to say, and analyze it for its validity, it will transform our lives.
If we’ll let it.
Looking for Jesus in His Glory
The reason that Jesus appears in a manger is so that He can eventually be found on the cross.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus reflects on the path His life will eventually taken towards Golgotha:
“Now My soul has become troubled; and what am I to say? ‘Father save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.”
It seems odd to look at a baby in a manger and think about their death — much less a death as gruesome as Jesus’ was.
But there’s no cross without the manger (and vice versa); you can’t acknowledge one without the other.
The cross was a literal stake in the ground as to the establishment of Jesus’ kingdom. Whereas most of the world saw it as His humiliation, Jesus rightfully saw it as His glory.
As He himself also said about the establishment of His kingdom, “The gates of Hades would not prevail against it.”
When we look for Jesus, we have to look towards His cross. Don’t run from it, and don’t be ashamed of it.
It’s His glory, but it can also be yours.
Looking for Jesus in His Resurrection
Every great beginning needs an ending. The crucifixion of Jesus may have looked like the end, but the real end is His eventual resurrection and ascension (and even that’s not technically the end).
That’s what He came for, and that’s the real reason the cross is any glory at all.
Without His resurrection, the cross would be the death knell for our hope.
Paul recounts to Timothy a simple verse is most likely repeated ad infinitum by the early Christians. We would do well to commit to memory also:
“He who is revealed in the flesh,
Was vindicated in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Proclaimed among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Taken up in glory.”(1 Timothy 3:14-16)
Looking for Jesus Beyond the Manger
It would not only be a foolish mistake to stop at the manger, it would be a potential eternity-impacting one at that.
If we stop at the manger, the only thing we see is Jesus as a baby. There’s nothing offensive about that, yet Jesus time and again talked about the divisiveness that He brought to the world.
We may not like what we see when we look for Jesus outside of Bethlehem, but that option really isn’t presented to us.
We either take all of Him, or nothing.Last modified: December 20, 2022