"...Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners..." (1 Timothy 1:15)
"Jesus Christ was the only human being ever born who chose to die." I'm not sure where I read this, but I do know it immediately struck me. People may choose when they will die, but everybody will die. We all have our "rendezvous with death," as the poet wrote. I realize Adam chose to die, but he was not born; he was created. No human being, born of a woman, has ever been, or will be, exempted from death (Heb.9:27).
Except for One.
Jesus Christ, as God, is untouchable by death. And this was true even in His body of flesh, as He told the mob that came after Him in the garden (Matt.26:53). He could lay down His life; but it could not be taken away from Him. Sooner could they extinguish the sun than they could snuff out that ever-existing Life.
Jesus had a virgin birth, and lived a sinless life, but He died a sinner's death. As Isaiah 53:6 says, God laid on Him "the iniquity of us all." His life was a wonderful example of love, integrity, humility, and good works, but none of that would have appeased a righteous God, who requires, and exacts, a higher payment for sin. "For the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). We needed more than an example; we needed an exchange.
And so He chose to die.
He chose to be born as a Baby, so that He could identify with us, in every way, from infancy through maturity. As Hebrews says, "He became us." Then, in the prime of life, He suddenly died. You could say, "It was either Him or us"; and Jesus said, "Me." And He showed that His death was sufficient to pay for our sins by rising from the dead three days later. "I lay down my life that I might take it again" (John 10:17).
Here's the good news: This exchange is not just about death; it's about life, too. We may not be able to choose whether or not we will die, but we can choose whether or not we will live after we die. Christ's death and resurrection made it possible. All that's required is for us to agree with God about who and what we are: sinners; and be willing to acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.
So, when you think of the Christ child in the manger, remember it was a "cradle in the shadow of a cross." He was born to die—by choice. And I will (literally) be eternally grateful for His choice, because I'm a benefactor that blessed "exchange. He chose to die; and I chose to live.
The Babe in the manger was God's only Son,
Who came to the world to die;
The Babe in the manger could never have done,
The work of His God on High.
The Babe left the manger and went to the Cross
To pay the wages of sin;
Your way of forgiveness is not by the Babe,
But the Christ who died for your sin.