“Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10).
When Jesus was born, no one would have known how important His birth was just by looking at him. Here was another poor Jewish baby. And what can you say about a baby? Not much. A baby is a baby. Next!
You could only know how important His birth was if someone told you.
Enter the angels.
They came with a message. And they didn’t tell the people you’d expect would be the most able to understand it. The angels didn’t appear to the scholars, scribes, or rabbis. A few months before, an angel tried telling a temple priest about it, but he didn’t believe it (Luke 1:20)!
So the angels appeared to be totally unprepared shepherds. These men were terrified, if not completely surprised. The Savior was born!
As surprised as those shepherds must have been, I wonder if the angels were even more so. Why? Because they really knew who this baby was. They had served in God’s own presence for untold eons, beholding His glory, and now they beheld Him, incarnate in human flesh, a newborn baby in an obscure village of the human world. How could that be? How could the eternal enter time? How could the spiritual become flesh? How could the omnipresence be swaddled in cloth? How could the Living, Almighty, Everlasting Lord of Hosts become a baby?
The angels must have been amazed that God Himself crossed the great gulf that existed between Creator and created. All three Trinitarian Persons were involved. The Father sent the Son to be born of Mary through the conception of the Spirit. And He came to be the Savior because we could not save ourselves.
It is simple to write down but mysterious to contemplate. The more you think about what happened, the more mysterious it gets. Why did God do that? I like how C. F. W. Walther explained it:
“An unspeakably great, unexplorably divine mystery is at the bottom of all this. God’s holiness and righteousness must shut the doors of heaven to us sinners, and He knows that neither we ourselves nor any creature in heaven or on earth can open them for us. He had therefore determined from eternity that what we could not do, He would do Himself, and He would do it in such a way that His divine, wonderful, incomprehensible, and infinite love would be known to all creatures, to His eternal praise and glory. God had decreed that His dear, only-begotten Son Himself would be sent into the world, that He would become man, that all of our sins would be laid on Him, and that those sins would be completely and eternally blotted out by His deep humiliation and death on a cross” (Walther, God Grant It, pp. 72-73).
It's Christmas and many gifts will be exchanged today. I invite you to think of those gifts as analogies for the greatest gift of all—God’s gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Jesus is a double gift. God gave His Son to the world so He could give His Son again to all who believe in Him. God gives the believer everlasting life, which is just another way to say He gives us Jesus Himself (1 John 5:11). Merry Christmas!
Send your questions or comments to Shawn.