Einstein once remarked that a person who no longer pauses to wonder is as good as dead. If there was ever a group of people who should take time to stand in wonder and amazement, it is followers of the Lord Jesus, and if there is ever a time to do so, it is when we consider Jesus’ coming to the earth, the Incarnation, when God took on flesh.
As we prepare for Christmas, it is good to remind ourselves to never take for granted that Jesus came. It’s also good to remember that it is God’s nature to come to his children when they are in need. When man first sinned, God came. He came walking in the garden in the cool of the day, calling out to Adam, “Where are you?” God then spoke of a future coming—the seed of a woman who would crush the head of the serpent (Gen 3:15). The entire Old Testament—all of God’s dealings with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David—led to the fulfillment of the coming of the promised seed.
When Jesus appeared, the God who had come before (in the garden) came once more. I was thinking recently about the absolute wonder of God’s master plan, and while it is profound and marvelous beyond measure, it is also delightfully simple. Could we summarize the coming of Jesus and the overall plan of redemption in the following thirty-eight words?
Through the ages, many have stood in awe and wonder at the Incarnation. Allow me to share some of their ponderings.
John Chrysostom (347-407) exclaims, “What shall I say! And how shall I describe this birth to you? For this wonder fills me with astonishment. The Ancient of Days has become an infant. He who sits upon the sublime and heavenly throne, now lies in a manger.”
Centuries later, Martin Luther (1483-1546) observes, “The mystery of the humanity of Christ, that He sunk Himself into our flesh, is beyond all human understanding.” He proceeds, “The Son of God did not want to be seen and found in heaven. Therefore he descended from heaven into this humility and came to us in our flesh, laid himself into the womb of his mother and into the manger and went on to the cross. This was the ladder that he placed on earth so that we might ascend to God on it. This is the way you must take.”
The great hymn writer, Charles Wesley (1707-1788), describes the Incarnation in these words:
“Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see;
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel”
In more modern times, A.W. Tozer remarks, “I am struck with the wonder and the significance of the limitless meaning of these two words, ‘He came.’ Within them the whole scope of divine mercy and redeeming love is outlined.”
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen notes the impact of the Incarnation with these words: “The simple shepherds heard the voice of an angel and found their Lamb; the wise men saw the light of a star and found their Wisdom.”
Paul Smith says, “A virgin birth seems a most appropriate and creative way for God to enter His world.” And Max Lucado notes, “The omnipotent, in one instant, made himself breakable. He who had been spirit became piercable. He who was larger than the universe became an embryo.”
One of my friends, Rick Burke, who pastors in Claremore, Oklahoma, shares this:
You know, when you think about it, it makes sense, doesn’t it? I mean, He came to save, rescue humanity. He shows up as a baby. Born in a stable. Placed in a manger. What could be more approachable? Every one is welcome in a stable. Who feels unqualified or unworthy to be around a manger? Who feels inferior around a baby?
If His purpose was to be an answer to everyone it wouldn’t make sense for Him to show up as a conquering king and born in a secluded palace. That, in itself, would have communicated restricted, secluded. But this, this says all, everyone, whosoever. This says Immanuel, God WITH us. Also to be revealed to shepherds AND wise men. Both ends of the social and economic spectrum, saying EVERYONE needs Him. Regardless of where you are in life. This event, which seems to fly in the face of convention, actually makes sense in light of His mission.
With that being said, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to ALL people. For unto YOU is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ The Lord. Because of this, I say MERRY CHRISTMAS!
This December, please take some time to wonder. Reflect, meditate, and consider what God did, what God is doing, and what he’s yet to do. Jesus came, and he’s coming again. It’s what he does.