It’s that time of year! The weather is changing. The stores are bustling. Houses are lit up with an enchanting gleam. It’s Christmas, a time of joy and celebration all around. In fun we sing songs about bells jingling, a deer with a shiny red nose, and a snowman who smokes a corncob pipe. Our culture is enraptured in the sentimentality that comes with the season: the warm drinks by a fire, Hallmark movies, and the gift giving (and getting!). But in this season, we often lose sight concerning the true reason we celebrate.
Over two thousand years ago, a child was born in Bethlehem. But this was no ordinary child. This child was (and remains) the eternal, unchangeable, incomprehensible God. He was the One through whom the Father created all things (John 1:1-3). Yet here He lies, wrapped in a created human nature. He is the one who spoke to Moses on Sinai with thunders and lightnings. Yet here He is, cooing and grunting at His virgin mother. He is God with all the attributes relative to divinity. Yet here He is, an infant, weak, needy, dependent. It is a profound mystery, that God should be among us, but even more so a mystery that He was among us as one of us.
The Son of God, who is Himself very God, became man. Why did He do it? The Scriptures tell us. The Apostle Paul teaches us that by taking on our nature, He, the Eternal Son of God, took to Himself a state of lowliness and poverty. He took on the form of a servant (literally “a slave”) with all the humility that comes with such a state according to Philippians 2:7,8. Elsewhere, Paul says that it is by this divine condescension that we are made possessors of the riches of God’s grace: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). Those riches of God’s grace are not monetary riches, but the riches of God’s salvation through the death and resurrection of His incarnate Son. God sent His only begotten Son in our likeness so that in Christ’s flesh our sin would be condemned at the cross and we might be accounted righteous by placing our faith in Him (Romans 8:3,4). The eternal Son of God humbled Himself by taking on our nature, so that He could suffer and die in our place.
May our joy this Christmas be found in this: our Savior and our God was born to die for us.
All my heart this night rejoices
As I hear far and near sweetest angel voices.
‘Christ is born,’ their choirs are singing
Till the air ev’rywhere now with joy is ringing!
He becomes the Lamb that taketh
Sin away and for aye full atonement maketh.
For our life His own He tenders
And our race, by His grace, meet for glory renders.
-Paul Gerhardt, “All My Heart this Night Rejoices” (Trinity Hymnal 217)
– J. Kyle Brent