Since I was big enough to remember, Silent Night has been my favorite Christmas carol. I am drawn to the calm, soft hope of the lyrics and rhythm to the music. When I hear it on the radio, sing it in church, or quietly hum the words to myself, a warm peacefulness courses through me. In my opinion, one of the most theologically rich lines of any song, Christmas or otherwise, is the closing line to verse 2, “Christ the Savior is born!” In those simple yet profound words, Christmas is tied to Easter.
When we look into the window of the tiny stable, we see the shadow of a cross. The hope of the incarnation is also the necessity of the crucifixion. The Lamb born in a stable would grow up to be the Lion of the tribe of Judah sacrificed on a stone table (to borrow from C.S. Lewis’ beautiful imagination). The infant Child born that night had royal blood, even divine blood, circulating in His veins. The cradle would lead to the cross. Snug swaddling clothes would be swapped for a piercing crown of thorns. The wooden manger holding Him safely that first night would be traded for a wooden cross holding His hands and feet with painful spikes. Worshipping shepherds at the place of His birth would be replaced with smug religious leaders, jeering soldiers, weeping followers, and cowardly disciples at the place of His death. The cool, angel-laden night in Bethlehem would be exchanged for the dark, ominous day in Jerusalem. The baby who miraculously entered the world would walk the path of suffering, mistreatment, pain, scourging, and unjust death at the hands of men to meet the just requirements of God before He would return again miraculously through resurrection. In the stable, the Savior-King was born. On the cross, the Savior-King was tested. At the resurrection, the Savior-King would be inaugurated!
Packed neatly into five simple words, the final line of the second verse of Silent Night tells us as much. Christ, He is the King. The Savior, He is the One to bear our sins, pay their penalty, and extend forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration to humanity through His death on the cross. Christ the Savior, He is born. And with His birth He brings hope and joy and peace.
“Christ the Savior is Born!” Yes He is!