It seems most of the world, whether or not they believe in Him, celebrates the birth of Jesus, many not even be aware that they mark their calendars from His advent. Elaborate parties are held, but all too often the One Whose birth is being celebrated is not acknowledged and, sometimes, not even invited!! As Jesus said, “they draw near to me with their mouths, and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
I think it is crucial that we know why He came. The Christmas story is not just about the birth of Jesus;
it is about the incarnation of Divinity into Humanity! In the fullness of time “the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.” It is about the whole of His Life, Death, Resurrection and Glorification. As long as He is left in the manger, He is no threat to anyone; or as long as His life is just considered as a good example for us to follow, we are only challenged to ‘be good.’ But the purpose of His Death and Resurrection is to make us “new creations,” give us “new hearts,” impart to us His “Divine Nature’ with all that is included: Forgiveness, righteousness (right standing with God); faith; hope; love; peace; joy; wisdom; power; and ultimately to bring His original plan to a perfect consummation – man in God’s image!
I never cease to marvel when I read the account in Philippians of how Christ Jesus Who, although He existed in the form of God, and could well have considered Himself equal with God, literally emptied Himself of Deity, taking the form of a slave, and came to the earth, confining Himself in a tiny, helpless human body, entrusted to the care of human parents. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” John tells us. As He grew to manhood, He humbled Himself to the point of obedience even to death, and that a most humiliating and excruciating death. “…our Saviour Jesus Christ…gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity…”
Just before Jesus and His disciples left the upper room where they shared their last supper together, Jesus said some amazing things. He said He would ask the Father to send them a Comforter, Whom He called the Spirit of Truth, Whom they already knew because He was with them (old covenant), but He would be in them (new covenant)! He assured them that He would not leave them orphans, but “I will come to you…Because I live, you also will live. Then you will realize that I am in my Father, and YOU ARE IN ME, and I AM IN YOU!” He came to establish a New Covenant based, not on laws for us to try to keep, but on His unfailing faithfulness.
He had said earlier, “I came that you may have Life, and may have it abundantly.” It is certain that the abundant life to which He referred is Himself – “the Way, the Truth, the Life” living in our innermost beings. The Apostle Paul expressed it in his famous declaration to the Galatian Church: “With Christ I have been crucified, and I live no more, but CHRIST LIVES IN ME; and the life I NOW LIVE in the flesh, I live in faith of the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
It is this coming – to literally dwell in the hearts of all who receive Him – that makes the celebration of His first coming so much more meaningful than just the historical baby born in the Bethlehem stable 2000 years ago. This is the Gospel – Good News – of Jesus Christ! We celebrate His coming and His dwelling in His people!
Many of the carols that are sung this season of the year convey the message:
O Holy Christ of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in – BE BORN IN US TODAY.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O COME TO US, ABIDE IN US, our LORD EMMANUEL!
- or -
Born Thy people to deliver; born a child, and yet a King;
Born to REIGN – IN US – FOREVER; now Thy gracious Kingdom bring – or -
Come, Desire of Nations, COME! FIX IN US Thy humble home;
Ride, the woman’s conq’ring seed; bruise IN US the serpent’s head.
Adam’s likeness now efface, stamp THINE IMAGE in its place;
Second Adam from above, reinstate us in Thy love.
Jesus came as Son of Man in order to make us Sons of God! Because He came, we can be children of God through the new birth. We can have peace with God; be filled with all joy; abound in hope; be strengthened with might by His Spirit; be more than conquerors; be renewed day by day; be conformed to His image; know the hope of His calling; be filled with His fullness… The list of blessings is endless!
God gave the very best He had for us. Can we do less for Him?
(Bible Refs. in order: Matt. 15:8-9; 2 Cor. 5:17; 3:3; 2 Pet.1:4; Gen. 1:26; 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:17; 12:27; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Pet. 2:5; Phil. 2:5-11; John 1:14; Titus 2:14; John 14:15-20; 17:23; 7:37-39; 14:6; Gal. 2:20; Col. 1:27; Eph. 3:17; 1 John 3:24; John 12:23-24; John 1:12; Gal. 3:26; John 3:7; 14:27; 15:11; Rom. 15:13; Eph. 3:16; Rom. 8:37; Eph. 4:23; Rom. 8:29; Eph. 1:18; 3:19)