There’s something beautiful and delightful about the birth of the Christ child. Each Christmas season there is opportunity—for a short time, at least—to concentrate not on the suffering and sin we see in our world, but on the beautiful baby in the crib. And of course, the beauty of this baby’s birth led to the wonder of the Savior’s life.
But as we contemplate the innocent baby’s birth, which led to the sinless Savior’s life, we arrive at a very unpleasant conclusion: The life Jesus lived ultimately condemns the life we live. When we evaluate our lives against His, we can only admit the hopelessness and helplessness of our condition. We can’t live as He lived, and we can’t undo the consequences of our own shortcomings.
If we look only at the crib, we arrive at a point of despair. For the beautiful crib led to Jesus’ majestic and superb example—and that leads us to a sense of helpless inadequacy. Yes, a crownless crib leads to hopelessness.
“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you… I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” (John 17:1,4-5)
If we read Scripture very carefully, we will recognize that before the crib there was the “crown” of Jesus. The baby that was born in Bethlehem shared glory with the Father before the world began. And after the cross, that crown was replaced. In other words, the earthly life and ministry of Jesus served as an interlude in His eternal reign as the Lord of all glory. And though His life ultimately reveals our hopelessness, the death and resurrection by which He took back His crown is the light of hope that shines on our darkness.
We should always beware of the doctrine of the crownless crib. We cannot really consider the Son of God in a crib apart from His cross and His seat upon the throne of heaven. For if we forget these we will lose our sense of who Jesus really is and what He has accomplished.