Not Bethlehem, but Calvary

While reflecting on the birth of Christ, consider how the New Testament makes reference to Christ’s birth for two primary purposes.

1. Prophetic – to connect Christ’s coming with messianic prophecies. He came in fulfillment of ancient prophecy. 

  • Incarnation (Micah 5:2; Jn. 5:23; 14:9-10; Jn. 1:14; Col. 2:9; I Tim. 3:16).
  • Virgin birth (Isa. 7;14; Lk. 1:35; Mt. 1:18, 25; Lk. 1:26-38).

2. Redemptive – to connect Christ’s coming with our salvation. He came to be our Savior from sin through His self-giving, sacrificial death on the cross. 

  • Christ’s death is the only salvation for humanity (Rom. 3:21-26; 4:25; 5:12-19).
  • Christ bore the penalty of our sin to accomplish our reconciliation  (Rom. 5:6-11; II Cor. 5:18-21; I Jn. 4:9).

“The New Testament knows nothing of an incarnation which can be defined apart from its relation to atonement… Not Bethlehem, but Calvary, is the focus of revelation, and any construction of Christianity which ignores or denies this distorts Christianity by putting it out of focus” (James Denney, The Death of Christ, 1902, p.235 f.).

“The crucial significance of the cradle at Bethlehem lies in its place in the sequence of steps down that led the Son of God to the cross of Calvary…” (J.I. Packer, p.51, ‘Knowing God’).

  • “But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, ‘Abba, Father.’ Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir” (Galatians 4:4-7).
  • “God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us” (Romans 8:3-4).

The Christmas story of God’s sacrificial love for sinners like me is well summarized by the apostle John: “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (I John 4:9-10).

This is good news!

Blessed Christmas to all!

Steve Cornell

About Wisdomforlife

Just another worker in God's field.
This entry was posted in Birth of Jesus, Christian worldview, Christianity, Christmas, God's Love, Gospel, Gospel-centered, Jesus Christ, Prophecy, Salvation and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Not Bethlehem, but Calvary

  1. If I may ask, what version of the Bible do you use?

  2. Angela Ntinyari Maitima says:

    I find this love of God too lofty for my simple mind. However, there is a certain joy I fill just knowing that the spirit of God that lives in me because of Christ gives me strength and protection. But again am sometimes overcome by guilt

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