Saturday, December 12, 2015

What We Celebrate at Christmas

Matthew 1:25 “And [Joseph] knew her [Mary] not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.”

The actual birthday of Jesus was sometime in the fall (September or October) rather than in December. The date is of lesser consequence, however, than the reason for the celebration (Isaiah 1:18). Heaven itself celebrated the birth (Luke 2:8-14). And after the shepherds got over their fear, they couldn’t stop telling the news.

Then there were the wise men from the east who came to worship the one “born king of the Jews” (Matthew 2:1-2). They got there well after the birth, having put their lives on hold, and willingly gave of their time and treasures to honor this great King while they rejoiced with “exceeding great joy” (Matthew 2:10). Surely all Christians should worship and rejoice as well as open our treasuries when we celebrate Christ’s birth.

But if we just focus on the birth, we may miss the greatest reason for the commemoration. After all, there was nothing uncommon about the physical process. What we celebrate at Christmas is not so much the birth of a baby, as important as that is, but what’s so significant about the birth of that particular baby is that in this birth we have the incarnation of God Himself. An incarnation means a coming in the flesh. We know how John begins His gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” So in that very complicated introductory statement, he distinguishes between the Word and God, and then in the next breath identifies the two, “The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” And then at the end of the prologue, he says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Now in this “infleshment,” if you will, of Christ appearing on this planet, it’s not that God suddenly changes through a metamorphosis into a man, so that the divine nature sort of passes out of existence or comes into a new form of fleshiness. No, the incarnation is not so much a subtraction as it is an addition, where the eternal second person of the Trinity takes upon Himself a human nature and joins His divine nature to that human nature for the purpose of redemption. God is spirit that we cannot see or touch and may be hard to wrap our mind around and relate to, though He is obvious through His creation. Jesus is God incarnate that we can see, and touch, and relate to on a physical and spiritual level.

The eternal “Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John1:14). The great Creator and Son of God, “foreordained before the foundation of the world” the infinite with the finite (1 Peter 1:20), submitted to the will of the Father and “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians).That was why heaven celebrated and that is what we celebrate at Christmas. Emmanuel – God incarnate, God with skin on, God in the flesh - “God with us” - Matthew 1:23

Jesus, God incarnate, is the reason for the season; Our Lord, our Savior.

Merry Christmas, Brian

No comments: