Born to Die

Why was He born?

“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).

For Jesus to be Redeemer He had to die. For Jesus to die He had first to be born.

If you add up the chapters of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the total is 89. About 29 of these chapters pertain to Jesus’ last week, His death, burial, resurrection, and His appearances following His resurrection.

So about a third of the Gospels is devoted to what Paul refers to as matters of “first importance” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

But while the great weight of the Gospels is on His redeeming work, only about three of the 89 chapters pertain to Jesus’ birth, and only Matthew and Luke give much attention to it. All four emphasize His death, as does the apostolic preaching in the book of Acts. Jesus instituted a memorial to His death, not His birth (1 Corinthians 11:26).

This is not at all to minimize His birth, but to put it in perspective: Jesus was born to die.

The shadow of the cross

Even in the birth narratives the cross casts its long shadow.

The angel announced to Joseph regarding Mary, “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

As Simeon held the infant Jesus in his arms, he prophesied to Mary, “Behold, this Child is appointed . . . for a sign to be opposed—and a sword will pierce even your own soul . . .” (Luke 2:34-35).

Mary gave birth to Jesus, but also watched Him die. She experienced pain on both occasions—followed by great joy (John 16:20-22).

Myrrh was one of the wise men’s gifts, but it was also used in Jesus’ burial (Matthew 2:11; John 19:39-40).

Look in the manger and you see a babe whose tiny hands and feet will one day be pierced by cruel Roman nails, and whose infant brow will someday wear the crown of thorns.

The wise men asked, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2).

The sign on the cross said, “This is Jesus the King of the Jews” (Matthew 27:37).

Born to die.


Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

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