Monday, December 12, 2011

The Incarnation

Lets imagine for a moment that we have never heard of Christmas.  We've never seen Linus explain the Christmas story to Charlie Brown. We've never opened a gift or talked to Santa. For the moment, pretend that December 25 is just another day on the calendar.

Now that you have, for the moment, let go of everything you think about Christmas consider these passages of scripture.

Isaiah 7:14 - "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."

God Himself will show mankind a sign that he is present. A Virgin will give birth to a son and he will be called "God with Us."

In case you have become jaded and lost your grip on the fantastic, this claim is absolutely amazing. The Prophet Isaiah is saying that God himself is going to break the laws of nature, step out of Heaven and come to us as a child by birth. Do not lose sight of how amazing and far-fetched this claim is. It has never, NEVER happened in the history of mankind before this and will NEVER happen again. This is why God points us to it in such a direct way. What better proof could there be that God, the creator of the natural and supernatural was involved than for the impossible to happen one time.

Now consider these verses in Matthew 1:18-25

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:  “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. (ESV)

Here, a 1st century writer noticed that something amazing was taking place in his day and connected the dots to a prophesy made centuries earlier. (Again, pretend you haven't heard all of this.) He writes about one man's peculiar birth and makes the claim that he was indeed born from a virgin mother and even feels the need to explain that the man who was to be her husband found the story of a miraculous "spiritual" pregnancy was just too fantastic to believe until God himself spoke to him in a dream. 

Now, you read these two accounts and decide to do some research and you find that yes, there was a man named Jesus who lived in the first century and that yes, his birth did in fact match not only the Isaiah prophesy, but many, many more. You start to realize that something amazing, mind-blowing, and wonderful had occurred. God had come to visit earth exactly the way he said he would. 

 Matthew and Luke give you the historical versions in their respective Gospel accounts. But John gives us the supernatural account. Read what he says in John 1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (Verses 1-5)

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (Verses 9-14)

As you read these verses you realize that God visited His creation for a purpose. He brought something with Him: The Right to become Children of God. His visit wasn't just to show he could do it, but that he came for those who are trapped in darkness. Some received Him. Some rejected Him. 

For those who received Him, this would be the greatest story ever told. It would be the centerpoint of all of History. It would define entire groups of people and separate Humanity into two groups: those who receive Him and those who reject Him. 

For those who reject Him, the story may be too fantastic. How could a virgin give birth to a child? Why would God come to earth? How could people not recognize him? 

Christmas, the birth of Jesus, becomes the starting point for what will be an eternal separation of people. Some will believe and become Children of God. Some will reject Him and miss the greatest gift ever given. 

This, my friends, would be all the information you needed to celebrate the greatest and most wonderful gift that has ever been given to mankind: God Himself.

And it is still all that you need to celebrate Christmas. Let us join together in singing one of the great Christmas hymns:

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

God came to Earth, born of a virgin to give the gift of life to all who believe in Him. Merry Christmas indeed! For this is Above Reality.

1 comment:

Mortfan said...

Wow! Excellent insight and presentation of one of three most profound events in human history. The birth is the first, the salvation of humankind second, and the Resurrection from the dead of Jesus the Christ being the last. Oh what an amazing God we serve!