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Thank God for the manger! I'm not down-playing the manger.  But the whole manger scene was for one thing, that cross.
There are people out there right now, in the mall shopping. Even after Christmas, they are out there, trying to find another gift for a or mom or dad, sister or brother, husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend (or the one you want to be boyfriend or girlfriend).

People are out there scouring the malls for all the after-Christmas sales. Maybe they're just looking for something for themselves. Others are home trying on clothes, checking out their gifts, eating left-overs, or just doing all kinds of other things.

People have forgotten what Christmas is about.

It isn't about some fat man coming down the chimney carrying gifts. It isn't about a sleigh with some reindeer with a red nose flying around the world. It sure isn't about "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire; Jack Frost nipping at your nose; Yuletide carols being sung." It is not about having time off from work, either.

Christmas is about a God who loves us so much, that He refused to allow us to die and go to Hell without an opportunity to miss it. And a great deal of the world, at least on Christmas day, will pay lip service to it. But what it is all about can be summed up really in one verse:

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given...."
(Isa. 9:6)

Both of these things happened at one time. A child was born and a son was given at the same instance. The child was Jesus in His humanity, because we know that God cannot be born. God cannot be born and God cannot die. So He walked this Earth as a man. Even though He was 100 percent God, He was also 100 percent man.

Now, you know what happened in Genesis. Each year, as we work our way up to Christmas day, I think we need to look at this a little bit, to remind ourselves what Christmas is all about.

You know what happened before Genesis chapter three…God creates man. Then gives the man a woman. And he gives Adam marching orders, which Eve finds out from him. Everything that is in that garden belongs to them. They have no needs.

Then God tells them that there is one tree in the center of the garden that is off limits. Everything in the garden they can have - but nothing from this particular tree. The day they do that, if they partake of that, they shall surely die. In other words He said, "You are going to experience spiritual death."

Spiritual death is separation from God, and having Satan's nature. That was shown right away in their children killing each other. There is a penalty that comes along with sin. Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death. And that death means eternally.

Now death was designed for Satan. God intended for Satan to burn for all eternity. Anybody who is going to act like Satan is going to burn. That's just the way it is.

Spiritual Death
We know that Eve was the most beautiful woman on the earth, second to my wife Deborah. We know what happened. She was the first one to partake of that which was forbidden.

The moment she did, she died spiritually. Adam partook with her, and they both died spiritually. They did not die physically at that moment, but they received Satan's nature, separated from God. And they would have to receive a penalty for what they did, eternal death - Hell fire.

Adam was doomed to spend eternity in hell. Well, if there is going to be full restoration for humankind, if we are to miss hell, there has to be a price paid. Someone has to pay the price. Somebody has to die. Somebody has to go to hell.

But God is always one step ahead of the devil. He found a virgin who was willing to just receive what He said. She didn't know what it meant, but it was good enough for her.

She said, "Be it unto me then, according to your word."

The seed of God took root in her womb. And that which was born of her was Jesus, without the nature of sin. Now you've got somebody qualified to carry all that stuff that Adam, you, and I messed up with.

This all started with that baby in that manger. Thank God it started, but I'm glad that He did not stay a baby. For something to happen for me and for you, the baby was going to have to grow up. The baby was going to have to give Himself to be beaten and hung on a cross. Then the baby was going to have to allow His spirit to be taken to hell.

This is the part that religious people can't handle. They try to figure this out with their minds. How could Jesus go to hell? Well, that is where you and I are going if we don't receive Him. And if you don't believe hell is real, don't find out by experience. They can believe that you and I can go to hell, but they can't believe Jesus went in our stead.

Let's read Acts 2:
Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
(vv. 26-31)
If His soul was not left in hell, then it must have been in hell. Why did it go to hell? Jesus went there because somebody had to pay the price for our mess-up. That is what that baby is about. It's about a gift.

The gift God gave you was redemption from hell-fire. That is better than getting a BMW. That's better than getting a diamond ring. It is better than anything you can think of. God redeemed you from eternal damnation.

An Exchange for Us
That's what it's about. Satan lost his battle. All of creation heard God say, "It's enough. The claims of justice have been satisfied." Satan heard that. He said, "Man, they have been redeemed. They have been set free from me."

Now, we ought to sing about the blood at Christmas. The issue is not the baby. That is where it starts, but the issue is not the baby in the swaddling clothes. All the joy about that is that redemption is coming.

You have to have a start in order to have a finish. But you ought to talk about the end of this thing. The end of this thing is that the baby means bloodshed. Without the shedding of blood there is no redemption. The baby means bloodshed. There is going to be death. And it is going to be in your place.

If there is any time that we ought to witness, it ought to be in this season. We ought to be telling people that the reason the baby was born - that baby was the Son of God wrapped in human flesh. And He came to pay the penalty for your sin. This is the time to witness.

People are more open this time of year. People are open to hear the gospel story. And you should not let this story go by them. You'd better tell them, because for some people, this will be the last time they will hear it. If you don't tell them, they will die and go to hell despite the fact that the price was paid. And that is the saddest thing of all.

It Was All For The Cross
I want you to get out of your comfortable, religious chair for a moment. I want you to think about what happened on that tree. I want you to go past the manger.

Thank God for the manger. I'm not down-playing the manger. You have to have the start to get to the end. But let me tell you, praise God, the whole manger scene was for one thing, that cross.

Everything you've ever done wrong, Jesus bore the penalty of that in His body on a tree. He did it so we could be dead to sin. That means then that you are free from all of the result of Adam's mess-up. God has made you free physically. He's made you free financially. He's made you free spiritually. He's made you free socially. He's made you free in every single way.

He did it because He loved you from the beginning. Before you were born, before you were a twinkle in your mama's eye, God saw you and said, I've got to do it for them.

Celebrating the Real Truth
So at Christmas time, I want to sing about the blood; I want to talk about the blood. No, devil, you can't get away with trying to get us to get caught up in all of the commercialism of Christmas. No, we know what this is all about. We know we are saved, we are healed, we are provided for. We are delivered. We know that we are filled with the power and strength of God. We know we are forgiven.

So, I'm not singing "Chestnuts roasting." I'm saying, "In the name of Jesus, get your hands off of my money. Get your hands off of my uncle. Get your hands off of my mama. Get your hands off of my house. Get your hands off of my wife. Get your hands off of my church. Get your hands off of my parishioners. Get out of here in Jesus' name!"

The Bible said, because of what Jesus did, resist the devil and he has to run. He has to flee. He has to get out of town. He has to go.

That is what Christmas is. When I think about Christmas, I'm thinking about that. I'm not thinking about some fat man in some chimney. I could care less about all the after Christmas sales. I don't care about getting a day off from work…I'm talking about how I don't even have to work in this sense. Why? The Lord provides my every need. I don't work for a living. I work for a giving.

Unto us a child is born. Unto us a Son is given. Thank God for the baby. But the baby grew up. He grew up and won the biggest battle of all. Let's just remember that.

Keith Butler Ministries
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Keith Butler
Web site: Word of Faith International Christian Center
Bishop Keith A. Butler is the senior pastor of Word of Faith International Christian Center. Keith Butler is the founder and president of Keith Butler Ministries (KBM), an international organization established to take the life-changing message of the Gospel to "the uttermost parts of the earth." Through Live Your Faith Seminars and the establishment of our PISTIS School of Ministry in various locations, Keith Butler provides teaching of the Word of God on a variety of subjects such as how to live the life of faith, how to fulfill the call of God for your life, how to receive your healing, the importance of walking in love and many more topics. PISTIS is specifically designed to train ministers so that they are equipped to go out into their world and teach and preach Jesus effectively.

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