Christmas: Incarnation

April 7, 2020
Sweet little Jesus boy
They made you be born in a manger
Sweet little holy child
We didn't know who you were
Didn't know you'd come to save us Lord
To take our sins away
Our eyes were blind, we could not see
We didn't know who you were
"Sweet Little JesusBoy"composed by Robert MacGimsey,
published 1934 by CarlFischer Music.

I love Christmas songs. They are filled with joy, peace, excitement, and wonder. There is a foggy nostalgia in these songs that send me back to my childhood, back to the streets of London where Ebenezer Scrooge wandered with the Christmas spirits,  and even further back to that major moment when God broke into the course of human history with an event of infinite importance and of profound mystery.

The impact of that single incident sent ripples throughout the world for the last two millennia. There is no other event in human history that has so impacted the course of history than the birth ofJesus Christ and His physical sojourn on the earth. Atheists protest, Jews resist, and Christians rejoice. Yet, in reality, most people in America join in the frivolity without much thought of the actual significance of the birth that was announced in that seemingly insignificant Judean village named Bethlehem.

Soren Kierkegaard, Danish theologian of the 19th century, tells a story about a king who was very rich but also very lonely. One day he noticed a peasant girl. His heart was captivated.He knew that if he drew up a royal decree, she would be required to obey. That was not what he wanted. If he showed up to court her in all his royal regalia, she might marry him because of his power and riches. Finally, he developed an ingenious plan. He would come to her as a peasant without display of his royal splendor.He went and lived among the peasants as if he were a peasant himself. After awhile, he won the young woman’s heart.

That’s like what God did for us. Philippians2:6-7 explains that Jesus, “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. (NewInternational Version) The baby was God inhuman flesh—fully God and fully man. Theologians call that the Incarnation. An old preacher called it, “God with skin on.”  

So, the Sweet Little Jesus Boy, was GodHimself. He came to live among us to show us the Father. “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John1:14)  

This is the most amazing event in all of history:  the eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, infinitely holy Son of God took on a human nature and lived among humanity as one who was both God and man at one time, in one person.[1]

We cannot overstate the significance of this event. The cute, cuddly baby boy born in Bethlehem, while being fully human, was also fully God. Indeed, God came to live among us. He came to show us the Father, but He also came to reconcile us to the Father. The Old Testament teaches us that God set apart a nation for Himself to demonstrate His desire to have a relationship with sinful humanity. TheJewish people were constantly reminded of their need for redemption from sin through the sacrifice of innocent animals. Jesus came to replace all those animal sacrifices. Through His selfless sacrifice, the perfect, sinless Son ofGod shed His own blood to reconcile us to the Father. No one could save himself or herself. Only God could intervene. And He did. Not only did Jesus come to show us the Father, but He also came to die.

Shepherds gaze in wonder
While angel voices sing.
The night of nights has come
And brought the world
The long-awaited King.
The earth is filled with gladness
And yet the heavens weep.
For heaven's eyes can see
He was born to die for me.[2]

John the Baptist knew this when he proclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Paul personalized this when he said, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.”(Timothy1:15)

Jesus came to earth as the long-awaitedMessiah, predicted by prophets and anticipated by the Jewish people. EveryJewish woman longed for the opportunity to give birth to that holy child. God, in His infinite wisdom, chose Mary to bear His Son into the world. So, Jesus came into the world in a lowly fashion. Even though Eastern royalty came to worship Him as a king, Jesus was not recognized as a king while He was here on the earth. The physical presence of Jesus among us ended with His crucifixion.But He is coming again.  He came first into a poor Nazarene family. He was generally rejected and ultimately despised.The next time He comes to earth, He will come as a conquering King. When that happens, “every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10-11)

Never misjudge the significance of the little baby named Jesus. He is King of kings and Lord of Lords. Our eternity depends on Him.

All Scripture quotations from the New American Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.

[1] ESVStudy Bible, copyright2001 by Crossway. Used by permission, p. 2020.

[2] From the song, Born to Die by Barbara Mandrell

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