Luke 2:12 NLT
 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Most of the world know the Christmas story. The virgin birth, the angels, the shepherds, the stable and the manger. The power of God displayed discreetly through Mary and Joseph and majestically by an army of angels. But the manger? The stable is smelly and uncomfortable enough, but who in the world would let a new born baby lay in a dirty trough? The royalty, splendor and majesty befitting the Son of God are not evident in a manger. One would probably expect a gold trimmed and bejeweled crib in a palace suitable for a prince. I guess that’s exactly the point… Who in the world?
An angel announced it as a sign. A sign of what? There’s not much you can say about a baby in a wooden box used for livestock fodder. It’s almost insignificant compared to the spectacle of a burning bush (Exodus 3:3). Gideon would probably search for a fleece (Judges 6:36-40). Heard about the talking donkey (Numbers 22:28)? How about a hand suddenly appearing and starts writing on a wall (Daniel 5:5)?
Ah, this brings me back to the question: Who in the world? Authors of this world would give us Cinderella, Snow White and other Disney characters, who are blue-blooded but simply got their adventures mixed up. How about Princess Diana? Nah. Even Mark Twain got a prince’s and a pauper’s birthrights switched and messed up. But none of them were settled in a manger.
But God is not of this world. Being born in a stable and set on a manger may not be a wise best seller plot but definitely draws our attention, eventually. (By the way, the Bible is the biggest best seller of all time). Only God can make a sign out of a manger. And a sign has a message, and God makes it clear what He wants to say. The manger is the announcement: His Son has come to save this world! And how exactly?
Fast forward about thirty three years later to another sign, another wooden one. The cross.
1 Corinthians 1:18 NLT
 The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.
We cannot understand with our overrated human brain, how God’s Son the Savior of this world could save us nailed to a cross. Most of the world know this story too and call it Lent or the Holy Week. Who in the world would make a message out of this? The question pops up again… Who in the world? As Paul wrote, it really sounds foolish. The message, just like any other, will only be understood when we receive it and believe it. Some, sadly and foolishly, would dismiss it.
The world 2,000 years ago is no different from the world today. They call it nonsense. Cultural diversity. Traditional differences. Individual rights. Unscientific. Illogical. Unsubstantiated. Superstition. Myth. Fiction. Humbug. Foolish.
Oh, we tried to save the world on our own. History is written by war, conquest, whoever got the bigger guns. Scholars created philosophies, politics, ideologies, religions. Science advances technologies so fast rendering yesterday’s obsolete. Medicines are developed to combat one disease only to fight another. Nations established democracies, authoritarianism, capitalism, socialism. Charity made efforts to alleviate hunger, poverty. Even comics created superheroes out to save the world with superpowers. Feeling better?
For God, the cross is the mission. What mission? By having Jesus the Savior die on the cross? Yes. How can that save us? He became a substitute so that we can be spared. From what? Eternal death. Why? Because God loves us so much.
1 Corinthians 1:24 NLT
 But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.
Only God can make signs out of a manger and a cross. Wisdom is in the manger. Power is in the cross. There is one thing common about these signs, Jesus was there. But Jesus didn’t stay long in them. He stepped out of the manger to reach out to us and He still does. He left the cross to open the door for us to His kingdom and He still does. Look with an open mind. Receive with an open heart. The message is clear. The message is grace. The message of the manger and the cross is Jesus.