As the shepherds gazed on the Babe in the manger, they saw a Savior who would redeem all of humankind. When the wise men beheld him, they saw a King who would conquer death. And when the prophets looked ahead, they saw an Emancipator who would open prison doors, unlock chains, and set captives free. They all had their vision of who Jesus was and why he came.
Christ was born into a world of unbelief, when God’s people lived under the terrifying grip of the Roman Empire. Israel’s religious leaders did not offer much hope. The Pharisees believed salvation was achievable through works, thereby convoluting God’s laws into a rigid system of impossible performance. And the Sadducees didn’t even believe in resurrection. In fact, very few people had any vision of an eternal existence. This was the darkness Jesus entered.
As we look into the manger, we see Christ as the bridge between earth and heaven, crossing over the abyss of death that separates temporal life and the eternal. One day we are going to cross that bridge and it will take place in the twinkling of an eye: “We shall all be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
We could ponder such mysteries, but the truth is, our imaginations simply cannot fathom the glory and power of God. Our brains are too finite. But we can be sure of this one thing: because Jesus came to earth, there is a new world coming. A world without sin, poverty or disease. Our Savior was born to bring life — everlasting life — so this Christmas season, let us keep a resurrection frame of mind. A mind and heart filled with hope of the life that is available to us because of the Christ-child born in a manger.