And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:14
One cannot help but be struck by the simplicity with which Matthew records the birth of Christ: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise.” Indeed a simple statement but one filled with profound truths.
The feeling strikes me sometimes, however, that the simplicity of the statement tends to make us think of the incarnation as something which is of little importance or significance. We often go to church on Christmas morning taking the miracle of the incarnation for granted, feeling that we will hear some more of the same old thing. We expect to hear repeated to us the Christmas story, a story with which we are already so very familiar. I wonder. I wonder whether we really grasp the significance of the incarnation.
The purpose of this article will be to cause you to think and reflect, to cause you to go to your Bibles to read about that story, to cause you to think about the significance of the birth of Christ. The purpose will be to remind you of the exhortation of Hebrews 2:1 where the author after comparing the excellency of the Son of Man with the status of the angels, states: “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.” Certainly this is an applicable warning to us in these times when we are so thoroughly inundated with the confused notion of Christmas presented by today’s society and today’s church. The point which I wish to make and emphasize is that reflection on the incarnation ought to result in our being deeply touched, spiritually touched, by this historical fact. The consideration of the incarnation should move us deeply because it reminds us of some very important things.
The incarnation ought to remind us, first of all, of our horrible sins. Sin, after all, was the historical necessity of Christ’s birth. The incarnation was the fulfillment of the promise given in Genesis 3:15, a promise given just after the fall of Adam and Eve. Christ came indeed to glorify the name of the Father, but he came nevertheless because of our sin. Cur deus homo? Because of our sin.
Secondly, the incarnation should remind us of our complete dependence upon God for our salvation. Notice carefully that it was not man who came to God to seek reconciliation for the horrible sins which he had committed. No, God had to search out Adam and Eve and it was God who in the fulfillment of His promise had to come in the very flesh of man. He was the God-Man, we did not become the Man-God. He came because of us – creatures of the earth, finite, human. He became the Immanuel, God with us, and he came to us for the sole purpose of redeeming us.
Finally (for the purposes of this article only – certainly there are volumes to be written), the incarnation should remind us of the astounding faithfulness of the Father. The prophets prophesied and the angels revealed the good news of the fulfillment of that prophecy. God, the Father, has not left us in our sin. He truly did send the Redeemer. He sent the Son of Man, born of a woman, flesh of our flesh, the promised Messiah, Jesus the people’s salvation.
The word with which I leave you is to think about these things, pray daily that the Spirit may testify with your spirit that these things are true, and buy all means respond as did Simeon when he saw the Christ-child: “Mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” Or as did Anna when seeing Jesus “gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”
Some more of the same old thing? A story with which we are all so familiar that it does not bear reflection and repetition? Hardly.
Originally Published in:
Vol. 30 No 8 December 1970