Between the Manger and the Cross









Photo by X. E. Dixon,

Today, I have only one theme on my mind. And frankly, it is the way it should be every day.


It’s Christmas Eve morning, and seriously,  not even a creature is stirring.  If a mouse is doing so, it’s being quiet about it. My cat is not crying to get in, my husband is sleeping, and my Yorkie (who I fear might be ill from eating something she shouldn’t have) continues to snooze.

I have a confession: I love Christmas, but it always makes me more pensive than festive. This year is no different. In fact, maybe it is even more so than usual. 2016 was not easy. So, I am just going to go with it and share the parts I think might be of benefit.

I don’t know the exact date when Jesus was born. Maybe in the month of June and not December. Unfortunately, factions of the Church argue over this. As far as I am concerned, they could discuss that detail until it snows in Las Vegas. . . well, that would be cool, and it actually did one Christmas when I was in high school there. The deal is, I’m sure a lot of non-important details about his birth have been enhanced over the years, also. Operative word: non-important.

What I do know is that He was born.

Words fail me to express my gratitude for that truth. Especially because I know it involved a lot more than being born. Or dying, for that matter.

As Christians, we emphasize his birth, his death, and his resurrection. Probably because it directly affects us. By that, I mean that if he hadn’t done those things we would have no promise of abundant or eternal life.

Remember I am pensive today, so let me say this: I have a hard time wrapping my mind around how difficult it had to have been for him to live thirty-three years here on earth.

Let me share where I am going with this. 

First of all, during Jesus’s time on earth, He continued to be God. Therefore, he had all the attributes of God, transferable and non. I  would love to discuss all of them, as it is one of my passions, but let’s just mention HOLY.

Have you ever watched the TV show Monk? He’s kind of a forgotten character now, but if you were a fan, you’ll remember the OCD detective who, whenever he shook someone’s hand (oh, so unwillingly!) he would afterward demand that Sharona, or in later episodes, Natalie, give him a disinfectant wipe. The same would go for any time he got in too close proximity with people, especially if they (oh, horror!) sneezed.

I am not going to compare Jesus to Adrian Monk, but my point is Jesus had to be around totally unholy, unclean people for more than three decades on earth when he could have just stayed out of it all. It had to have been downright torture at times.

He is God.

Another thought. Consider the fact that God is absolutely Independent. He needs no one else.  However, he created angels, the earth, and then even us. And then he commanded us to be holy, so we could live with him forever.

Part of Jesus’s mission on earth was to show us how it could be done. Perfectly. But God and Jesus knew we would blow it, so they already had a plan cooked up: redemption and sanctification. Jesus would be born, live on earth for thirty-three years,  and then die and be resurrected. Our part was to accept Him as our Savior and then commit to obey Him.

When you say it like that or put it in a tract, it sounds kind of cut and dried. The being born and baby part for Jesus was probably pretty normal. It is when he started growing up and then got into his years of ministry that boggle my mind.

Let me repeat it. He is God. Perfect. Holy. Agreed, he was also 100% man.

But, he lived in the midst of everything he wasn’t. You know the phrase not being comfortable in your own skin? Can you imagine?

Jesus witnessed political and social uprising and injustice, greed, hypocrisy, crime, disease, family problems. You name it, and he addressed it all, one way or another. He touched people no one else would touch and loved the unlovable.

I can be unlovable. I want Him to touch me.

Death for Jesus was grueling and humiliating. More than we can imagine or fathom, no matter how well done on the wide screen.

But I am convinced that living here on earth was even more difficult than dying on the cross.  This conviction just deepens my gratitude.

It all narrows down to one thing, the very essence of Jesus: love. We have no other explanation.

I only have a couple more minutes until the cat will want in, my husband will stir, and my dog will decide if she is going to live and try for another piece of fruitcake.

Today, it is my sincere prayer that in the midst of whatever you are going through, be it joyous or difficult, pensive or festive, Jesus’s love will penetrate and warm your very heart. He loves you. It isn’t just a saying. He really does. He came to earth to prove it.

We just need to believe it.

Merry, Merry  Christmas!


About colleenshinephillips

Writer, veteran missionary, adventure and intrigue-lover. Convinced of the power of the word and the Word.
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8 Responses to Between the Manger and the Cross

  1. Colleen, I appreciate your transparency. It’s easy to skim right over the fact that Jesus—God with us—patiently experienced life on earth, so that He could be our High Priest. Thanks for this reminder of His deep love for us. I pray you will enjoy a wonderful weekend, rejoicing in God’s loving presence. Merry Christmas!

  2. kaseygiard says:

    Another deep post. 🙂 Thank you for sharing so openly. We so need to be reminded of these things.

    • colleenshinephillips says:

      I just can’t help but think this way, my friend. Thank you for seeing it as sharing openly. And thank you for encouraging.

  3. Francine Rivers says:

    Your blog is something I will be thinking about for a long time, Colleen. It’s so true, we tend to think of baby Jesus at Christmas time, and then our Lord taking all our sins upon Himself on the cross during Passover/Easter — as though that was a one-time deal. But you’re right. What must it have been like for Him to live among us on a daily basis for three decades plus three years? The pain and sorrow at seeing what sin had done to His creation. Scripture tells us His family didn’t understand Him, or citizens from His home town, not even His closest friends understood.. Our perfect Lord living a perfect life among imperfect sin-sick souls. The Healer with arms and hands open to receive us. Born at a babe to die for us. Who but God could come up with such a plan? How can we not love Him?

    • colleenshinephillips says:

      I agree, Francine, how can we not love Him? He does something at every turn to remind us of that unfailing, unrelenting love. We are so blessed.

  4. Patti Brown says:

    I had not thought of it in terms of the suffering He endured simply being a holy and perfect God walking on a planet teeming with sinners. That is a perspective worth much meditation.

    • colleenshinephillips says:

      This is something the Lord showed me a long time ago, and I can’t get it out of my head. I hope it provoked the good kind of meditation.

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