The Cradle, Cross, and Crown

The Cradle, Cross, and Crown

by Billy Graham

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Overview

Heaven descends to earth as we celebrate and rejoice in the true meaning of Christmas.

The true Christmas message is so often lost in the busyness and profit-making venues during the holiday season. How does one wade through all of the worldly diversions and still find Christ? Drawing from a lifetime of writings and sermons, beloved preacher and author Billy Graham pierces through the meaningless activity we get caught up in by taking readers back to the time when heaven descended to earth—and the place where Christ was born. Included in this classic Christmas message are excerpts from This Christmas Night, Scriptural accounts of Christ’s birth, favorite carols, and beautiful poetry by Ruth Bell Graham. It’s perfect for keeping focused on what’s truly important during the bustle of the season.

Trim Size: 4 x 6

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780529104984
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 10/07/2014
Pages: 64
Sales rank: 242,776
Product dimensions: 3.70(w) x 5.70(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Billy Graham, world-renowned preacher, evangelist, and author, delivered the gospel message to more people face-to-face than anyone in history and ministered on every continent of the world in more than 185 countries. Millions have read his inspirational classics, including Angels, Peace with God, The Holy Spirit, Hope for the Troubled Heart, How to Be Born Again, The Journey, Nearing Home, and The Reason for My Hope.

Read an Excerpt

The Cradle Cross and Crown


By Billy Graham

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2014 Billy Graham
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7180-1888-7


CHAPTER 1

The CRADLE


God Visited Earth


On that first Christmas night the Bible tells us about the angel coming to those fearful shepherds and saying, "Fear not, I bring you good news." What is the real meaning of that good news?

During World War II, many a mother would take her son and try to keep the memory of the father who was away at war in the memory of that boy. And one mother I heard about took her son every day into the bedroom and showed him a large portrait of the father who was away. One day the little boy said to his mother, "Mom, wouldn't it be great if Dad could just step out of the frame?"

That's what happened that first Christmas. For centuries man has looked into the heavens longing for God to step out of the frame, and at Bethlehem that's exactly what God did. Incredible and unbelievable as it may appear to a modern man, the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ was a visitor from Heaven itself. He was God Incarnate.


And there were shepherds living
out in the fields nearby, keeping
watch over their flocks at night.
An angel of the Lord appeared
to them, and the glory of the
Lord shone around them, and
they were terrified. But the
angel said to them, "Do not be
afraid. I bring you good news
that will cause great joy for all
the people. Today in the town
of David a Savior has been born
to you; he is the Messiah, the
Lord. This will be a sign to you:
You will find a baby wrapped in
cloths and lying in a manger."


—Luke 2: 8-12


    No Ordinary Sheep

    Those were no ordinary sheep ...
    no common flocks,
    huddled in sleep
    among the fields,
    the layered rocks,
    near Bethlehem
    That Night;
    but those
    selected for the Temple sacrifice:
    theirs to atone
    for sins
    they had not done.
    How right
    the angels should appear
    to them
    That Night.
    Those were no usual shepherds there,
    but outcast shepherds
    whose unusual care
    of special sheep
    made it impossible to keep
    Rabbinic law,
    which therefore banned them.
    How right
    the angels should appear
    to them
    That Night.


    —Ruth Bell Graham's Collected Poems


A tiny secluded manger, with its sweet-smelling straw and its lowing cattle, comprised the homely stage upon which the most striking and significant drama of the centuries was enacted. It was there that God, in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ, became identified with man. In meekness and humility He came to earth as the Prince of Peace.

This Christmas Night


Christmas is a time of miracles.
The angelic chorus, lowly
shepherds, a humble manger
as the birthplace of deity-all
are miraculous happenings.


—Kenneth W. Osbeck


    Away in a Manger

    Away in a manger,
    no crib for a bed,
    the little Lord Jesus
    laid down His sweet head;
    the stars in the sky
    looked down where He lay,
    the little Lord Jesus,
    asleep on the hay.

    The cattle are lowing;
    the Baby awakes,
    but little Lord Jesus,
    no crying He makes;
    I love Thee, Lord Jesus!
    look down from the sky,
    and stay by my cradle
    till morning is nigh.

    Be near me, Lord Jesus,
    I ask Thee to stay
    close by me forever,
    and love me, I pray;
    bless all the dear children
    in Thy tender care,
    and fit us for heaven,
    to live with Thee there.


    —John Thomas McFarland, 1851-1913


Eternal Impact

The virgin-born baby was God in human form. He humbled Himself, He took the form of a servant, He was made in your likeness and mine, He identified Himself with the problems of the human race. And thus it was that the apostle John wrote, "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, as of the only begotten of the Father.)" (John 1:14 KJV).

In the early days of the nineteenth century, the world was following, with fear and trembling, the march of Napoleon across Europe. Day after day they waited with impatience for the latest news of the wars. And no one was paying any attention to the babies that were being born. In just one year, lying midway between Trafalgar and Waterloo, there came into the world a host of heroes. During that year of 1809, listen to the people who were born in that year—when everybody was taken up with the problems of Napoleon: Gladstone was born in Liverpool, England; Alfred Tennyson was born in Somersby, England; Oliver Wendell Holmes was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Frederic Chopin was born in Warsaw, Poland; Mendelssohn was born in Hamburg, Germany; and Abraham Lincoln was born in Hodgenville, Kentucky. But nobody thought of babies. Everybody was thinking of battles.

Yet over two hundred years later, with a truer perspective which the years enable us to command, we can ask ourselves, "Which of the battles of 1809 were more important than the babies of 1809?"


In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God, and
the Word was God. He was with
God in the beginning. Through him
all things were made; without him
nothing was made that has been
made. In him was life, and that life
was the light of all mankind. The
light shines in the darkness, and
the darkness has not overcome it.


—John 1:1-5


What a difference the baby born in Bethlehem's manger two thousand years ago makes to our world today. The educational systems He has inspired, the social reforms that His teachings have instituted, and the transformation of families and lives that have come about as a result of a baby born at Bethlehem! The whole world was thinking of Caesar. The whole world was thinking of Rome. But in God's eternal plan, He was thinking of a baby in a manger in the little tiny town of Bethlehem.


Christmas is not a myth, not
a tradition, not a dream—
it is a glorious reality.


This Christmas Night


Have you ever thought about what has happened because Christ came into the world? That baby in the manger of Bethlehem grew up to become our crucified and risen Savior—and the world has never been the same.

Jesus' compassion has made the world more compassionate. His healing touch has made the world more humanitarian. His selflessness has made the world more self-effacing. Christ drew a rainbow of hope around the shoulders of men and women and gave them something to live for.

If Christ had not come, our world would indeed be a hopeless world. If Christ had not come, ours would be a lost world. There would be no access to God, there would be no atonement for sin, there would be no forgiveness, and there would be no Savior.

Yes, Christ came into the world and made it a better place. And He will do the same for you if you will open your life to Him.

Hope for Each Day


      Once in Royal David's City

      Once in royal David's city
      Stood a lowly cattle shed,
      Where a mother laid her Baby
      In a manger for His bed:
      Mary was that mother mild,
      Jesus Christ her little Child.
      He came down to earth from heaven,
      Who is God and Lord of all,
      And His shelter was a stable,
      And His cradle was a stall;
      With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
      Lived on earth our Savior holy.
      The Cradle 17
      And our eyes at last shall see Him,
      Through His own redeeming love;
      For that Child so dear and gentle
      Is our Lord in heaven above,
      And He leads His children on
      To the place where He is gone.


    —Cecil Francis Alexander, 1848


Christ came into this world as
God's Ambassador, sent from
heaven to tell us of God's love.


This Christmas Night


So they hurried off and found
Mary and Joseph, and the baby,
who was lying in the manger.
When they had seen him, they
spread the word concerning what
had been told them about this
child, and all who heard it were
amazed at what the shepherds
said to them. But Mary treasured
up all these things and pondered
them in her heart. The shepherds
returned, glorifying and praising
God for all the things they had
heard and seen, which were
just as they had been told.


—Luke 2:16-20


May the Christmas morning make
us happy to be Thy children,
and the Christmas evening bring
us to our beds with grateful
thoughts, forgiving and forgiven.


—Robert Louis Stevenson

CHAPTER 2

The CROSS


The Greatest Transformer

For Christmas to have meaning, it cannot be separated from the Cross. The angel said at the birth of Jesus, "He shall save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21 KJV). Jesus Himself said, speaking of His death, "To this end was I born" (John 18:37 KJV). He was the only person that's ever been born in history who was born with the purpose of dying. The apostle Paul years later said, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."

The central message of Christmas is that Jesus Christ, by His death and resurrection, can transform both individuals and society. Almost everyone at some time or another feels moral guilt and failure. It's like the little boy who said, "I guess I was born wrong." In every newspaper or magazine that we pick up, and in every newscast that we watch, we see a picture of hate and lust and greed and prejudice and corruption manifested in a thousand ways. And the fact that we have policemen and jails and military forces indicates that something is wrong with the human race, something's radically wrong with human nature.


Have the same mindset as Christ
Jesus: Who, being in very nature
God, did not consider equality
with God something to be used
to his own advantage; rather, he
made himself nothing by taking
the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance
as a man, he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to
death—even death on a cross!


—Philippians 2:5-8


Man—A Paradox

Every time I board an airplane they search my luggage, and they even search my clothes on some occasions. And we ask ourselves, "What's wrong? Why can't we solve our problems? Why can't the world find this peace that this Prince of Peace was supposed to bring?" You see, man is actually a paradox. On the one hand there's futility and sin, on the other there's goodness and kindness and gentleness and love. On the one hand he's a moral failure, and on the other hand he has the capacities that would relate him to Almighty God. No wonder the apostle Paul called this moral failure "the mystery of iniquity" (2 Thessalonians 2:7 KJV).

The Bible teaches that the human race is morally sick. This disease has affected every phase of our life in society. The Bible calls this disease by an ugly, three-letter word: sin.


    He was despised and rejected by
    mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar
    with pain.
    Like one from whom people hide
    their faces
    he was despised, and we held him
    in low esteem.

    Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering, yet we
    considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
    But he was pierced for our
    transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
    the punishment that brought us
    peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.


    —Isaiah 53:3-5


The Only Cure for Sin

The Bible teaches that the only cure for sin is the blood of Christ on that Cross. Every Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox church celebrates Communion. When we put the wine to our lips, it's the symbol of that blood that was shed. And one of the most prominent aspects of the worship of ancient Judaism was the shedding of blood to make an atonement for sin. The word blood symbolizes life, a life that was given. Christ became the Lamb of God whose blood was shed, and He died on the Cross for our sins.

The Cross and the resurrection stand today as humanity's only hope. It was on Good Friday and Easter that God did for us what we could not do for ourselves. From these momentous events, God is saying to sinful man, "I love you. I love you so much I gave My Son." But He's saying more than that. He's saying, "I can forgive you, because of what He did on the Cross." And this is good news at this Christmas!


* * *

They had seen an angel, they repeated. And the angel had told them about a Baby born in Bethlehem and called the Baby "Savior" and "Lord." They had just seen the Baby with their own eyes—out in the stable behind the inn—and they wanted everyone else to know about it too.

He was a tiny thing, wrapped tightly in a long linen band of cloth and sleeping soundly as any newborn baby. Sleeping as though the world had not waited thousands of years for this moment. As soundly as though your life and my life and the lives of everyone on earth were not wrapped up in His birth.

Our Christmas Story, This Christmas Night


    Free from the Law

    Free from the law, O happy condition,

    Jesus hath bled, and there is remission;
    Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall,
    Grace hath redeemed us once for all.

    Once for all, O sinner, receive it,
    Once for all, O brother, believe it;
    Cling to the cross, the burden will fall,
    Christ hath redeemed us once for all.

    Now we are free, there's no condemnation,
    Jesus provides a perfect salvation;
    "Come unto Me," O hear His sweet call,
    Come, and He saves us once for all.

    Once for all, O sinner, receive it,
    Once for all, O brother, believe it;
    Cling to the cross, the burden will fall,
    Christ hath redeemed us once for all.

    "Children of God," O glorious calling,
    Surely His grace will keep us from falling;
    Passing from death to life at His call,
    Blessed salvation once for all.

    Once for all, O sinner, receive it,
    Once for all, O brother, believe it;
    Cling to the cross, the burden will fall,
    Christ hath redeemed us once for all.


    —Philip Paul Bliss, 1838-1876


We Must Do Our Part

God did His part by giving His Son, the great Christmas gift, God's great gift to the human race. But we must do something. We must humble ourselves. We must admit our sins. We must admit that we're moral failures and turn to Him by faith. We must say as the publican did, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner" (Luke 18:13). The Scripture says that a broken and a contrite heart God will not despise (Psalm 34:18). If we as individuals and as a nation would humble ourselves and turn from our sins, God has promised forgiveness, healing to the nation, and eternal life to the individual (2 Chronicles 7:14).

This is the good news that the world is morally, psychologically, and spiritually longing for. Some of you may dismiss it as idiotic and ridiculous that a man dying 2,000 years ago could be relevant today. The apostle Paul anticipated we'd say that when he said, "The preaching of the cross is, I know, nonsense to those who are involved in this dying world. But to us who are being saved from that death, it's nothing less than the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18 PHILLIPS).


Our Greatest Need

I believe that America and the world stand on the threshold of divine judgment. Morally, socially, economically, politically, spiritually, we are in deep trouble. We've turned away from God, and every month seems to take us further away from the only One who can reverse the tide, forgive our sins, and forestall the imminent judgment. We must alter our course if we are going to see many more Christmas seasons. We must reorder our priorities. We must remake the unjust structures that have taken advantage of the powerless, and broken the hearts of the poor and the dispossessed. We all admit that we need more sweeping social reform, and in true repentance we must determine to do something about it.

But even that, as good as it is, is not our greatest need. Our greatest need is a change in our hearts. That is why Jesus said, "You must be born again" (John 3:7). That's why He said, "Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3 NKJV). The apostle Paul in his famous sermon at Mars Hill said, "God ... commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world"(Acts 17:30-31 NKJV). Who should repent? Everybody. This is what the Cross calls for. The heart of its message is simple: repent and be saved—now and eternally.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Cradle Cross and Crown by Billy Graham. Copyright © 2014 Billy Graham. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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