by Bill DentonChristmas is, without a doubt, a wonderful time of year. It is filled with the warmth of fellowship over holiday foods, parties, and gifts. It brings people's hearts to an awareness of God's gift of His Son like no other season. But there is more to Christmas than just a day of celebration. The truth is that people often get all caught up in the "story" of Jesus' birth. We revel in the "tender" side of God's nature, putting aside thoughts of sin and righteousness. We dress up kids in costumes and post them out in cold weather so folks can drive by and view the "manger scene." This picture, coupled with angelic-sounding songs such as "Silent Night," and rustic shepherds awed into humble praise of the newborn Christ-child is too much to resist. Don't misunderstand. This aspect of Jesus' story is important, even vital, to understanding the Messiah, the Savior, God among us. It is here that we must make a necessary point, however. The biblical focus on Jesus Christ is not on His birth. Naturally, it is important and everything from angels' announcements to Mary and Joseph, to Simeon's Holy Spirit-inspired prophecy of the identity of the Messiah, to angelic choirs singing praise at His birth, declares that the arrival of Jesus into the world was a fantastic event. Still, the focus isn't there. The real focus is some thirty years later, at an execution scene. There was no tender moment at that place to cause us to sigh in wonder. Instead, the air was ripe with evil. Man's disdain for his God ruled the day as the Son of God was discarded in hatred. The baby of the manger was murdered, charged like a common criminal. Sorrow and fear gripped His family and His disciples, and for a brief moment, it appeared that the great promises of God, the hope of Israel, the glimmer of grace and mercy to all mankind, would all be lost. But, there is a reason why that death scene is the focus. Birth brought God's Son into the world and gave Him a body of flesh. Birth is what brought into being a Man, a Man with a body, and a body designed from before creation itself to die as a sacrifice. The reason the cross is the focus is because of what was done when the baby who lay in the manger became a man who could give Himself as a sacrifice for sin. It was the blood of His death that cleansed the sin-stained souls who put Him on the cross. It was the agony of death that reflected the true nature of sin and its consequences. This was a man born to die, and that's the point. I am grateful for the magnificence of the "Christmas story," but I am even more grateful that He died to take away my sins. That wasn't done in the manger, it was done on the cross. The truth is that an old, rugged cross will never have the appeal of an old, rugged manger. The sorrow of heaven that put the world into darkness and split the veil of the Temple will never compete with the angelic choir, or the praising shepherds, or the honoring wise men. We can dress up our kids and put them in a manger scene, but who would want their child to get picked to be Jesus on the day of His death? So I understand the relative appeal of one scene over the other. My plea is that you simply remember why He was born. It is in the purpose of His life that you will find a permanent reason to rejoice. There was born in the city of David, a child who was, and is, the Savior, Christ the Lord.