This year for my devotions I am reading through the entire Bible and it has brought up several interesting thoughts. For instance, last week I was reading in Matthew 27, and this morning I was reading in Luke 2. Why is that significant? Well, let me show you what I found to be interesting…
Luke 2 contains a very familiar account of the birth of Jesus. We typically listen to the story retold every year at Christmas time. Even if it is only while watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and listening to Linus retell this story. Over the years much of the story has become very familiar to us and one of those parts is Luke 2:7, “and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
On the flip side, Matthew 27 contains another familiar story. It is a story that we talk about each year at Easter time. It is the story of Christ’s death on the cross for the sins of the world. But as I was reading from Matthew 27 there was one sentence that really jumped out at me in light of the story from Luke 2. That sentence was Matthew 27:59,60a, “Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock…”
Do you see the similarity between those two verses? Now, I know that I am working with the NIV and not with the original Greek, but the thought that really jumped out at me was the similarity between Jesus’ birth and Jesus’ death. When He was born, His mother, Mary, wrapped him in cloth and placed him in a manger. And when He died his friend, Joseph of Arimethea, wrapped him in cloth and placed him in a tomb.
The phrase, “from the cradle to the grave” is an idiom that is meant to speak of life from the time we are born to the time we die. It has been used in song lyrics and even was a movie title, but it is very fitting when thinking of Jesus’ life. From the manger to the tomb Jesus’ life was all about one thing. We are reminded of that in Philippians 2:6-11, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Jesus came to earth to die for the sins of the world. He came to earth with that plan in place. He was born to die. And even though it was difficult, He followed that plan all the way to his death on the cross. From the cradle to the grave. From the manger to the tomb.
But there is one other interesting thing that I find in these two passages. First of all, when Jesus came into the world, there wasn’t even room for Him in the inn. So his mom had to lay him in a manger in a stable somewhere. This was a very non-intimate, non-personal, open, public place for Jesus to be born. He was out there for everyone to see. We even know of some shepherds that stopped by to see Him. Anyone could come by. Everyone had access.
On the flip side, after He died, Joseph took His body and placed it in his very own tomb. This was a very intimate, very personal, very private place for Jesus to be placed. Joseph opened up his own tomb, the place that was reserved for himself, and gave that place to Jesus.
That reminds me of us. Jesus is available for all. He came to earth for all who would receive Him. But while He is there for all of us, it is up to us to act like Joseph did and take that very personal place, the place that is typically reserved just for us, our heart and give it to Him.
If you have never done that, then I want to encourage you to do that today. Realize that Jesus’s entire life on earth, from the cradle to the grave, was given for you. He died for the sins of the world. Let’s give Him the place in our hearts that He deserves.