Christmas is a sentimental holiday, filled with childhood nostalgia, plenty of commercialism, and more opportunities to enjoy tasty treats than most of us need. More importantly, Christmas is also intricately tied to Easter and, together, the events memorialized in our Christmas and Easter celebrations are the source of eternal hope for sinners in need of a Savior. Without Calvary, the cradle has no meaning; without the cradle, Calvary could never be.
I recall sharing with worshippers during a Christmas program how much the Christmas story needs the Easter story in order to be complete. I also made the point that there are no good people in heaven, only sinners who look to the cradle and the cross for our forgiveness and hope. A few days later, I received a note from a lady who had attended our program. She was a member of a Catholic church where the gospel had been confusingly wedded to works righteousness. She was aghast by my statement, “There are no good people in heaven,” and terribly offended that I had dampened the Christmas celebration with my reference to a bloody cross.
My position hasn’t changed. There are no good people in heaven! Scripture declares, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And the message of Hebrews 9:22 is, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Therefore, only those creatures of the Fall who have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14) can genuinely celebrate the hope secured by the cradle and the cross. The lyrics of Rae E. Whitney’s song are a beautiful expression of this truth.
Christmas has its cradle, where a Baby cried;
did the lantern’s shadow show him crucified?
Did he foresee darkly His life’s willing loss?
Christmas has its cradle and Easter has its cross.
Christmas has its cradle; shepherds came to see,
Little Son of Mary, Lamb of God to be
had His Father warned Him, none would grant Him room,
save in the Christmas cradle and in the Easter tomb?
Christmas has its cradle, wise men came to bring,
myrrh and gold and incense, offering for a King;
myrrh alone stayed with Him, death’s balm for this Boy,
from the Christmas cradle and to His Easter joy.
Christmas has its cradle, where that Baby cried;
in the Easter garden, Christ lay, crucified;
when death’s power was conquered, God’s life through Him poured;
Christmas has its cradle and Easter has its Lord!
Might both the joy of Christmas and the hope of Easter fill our hearts and churches, and flow from our mouths and lives as we celebrate our Savior. Merry Christmas!