Christmas is beautiful. Beyond the bright lights and decorations, the story of God the Son wrapping his glory in flesh and blood is profound and precious. Amid all of the hurry and hype, gifts and goodies, people and presents, let’s take a few moments to savor the wonder of the incarnation.
The term incarnation means “in flesh.” It describes the Son of God taking on a human nature in addition to his divine nature. When Mary and Joseph looked down in the face of their new baby, they saw one person with two natures, one truly human and one truly divine.
When a new prince is born into a royal family, what kind of preparations take place? Certainly the baby room is filled with the best that money could buy. The royal cradle is perfect. The tiny clothing is regal. All of the baby’s surroundings are clean and beautiful.
After the prince is born announcements are made far and wide. Greetings follow from every corner of the land. The whole nation rejoices.
When the King of all kings was born, however, his situation was completely different. Instead of a fine room, Jesus was born in a stable. His cradle was literally a manger, or feeding trough. His clothing consisted of swaddling cloths—strips of cloth used to wrap the baby tightly to keep him from hurting his sensitive skin. He was probably surrounded by dirty animals.
The only visitors the new king had at first were a few poor shepherds. Shepherds were considered quite low class in that society.
Part of the beauty of Christmas is the humility displayed by Jesus. What glory he left to come to earth! What a humble birth! 2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though His was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.”
Another facet of the beauty of Christmas is the purpose of the incarnation. There are several purposes of the first coming of the Lord Jesus. The incarnation shows God’s great love for sinners. If you lived in a castle, you would have to love a slave a lot to become a slave to rescue him. In an even more profound way, Jesus laid aside some of his heavenly privileges (not an ounce of his deity, of course) when he became a man. The Bible tells us he was motivated by God’s glory and love for sinners (Romans 5:8 and John 3:16).
Another purpose of the incarnation was so that God could relate to us. He knows by experience what it is to live in this hard world. Hebrews 4:15-16 says that this should encourage us to seek him in prayer.
The incarnation also provided a personal example for us to follow. Do you remember those bracelets that had the initials WWJD? That stood for “What would Jesus do?” a question designed to remind us of the example of Jesus. While a mere moral example was not the primary mission of Jesus it is included in the Lord’s purpose (1 Peter 2:21).
The most important and beautiful purpose of the incarnation of Jesus is that it makes the atonement possible. In other words, without the manger of Bethlehem the cross of Calvary would have been futile.
Jesus did not die to merely provide an inspiring act of heroism. He died as a substitute for sinners. His blood shed on the cross literally satisfied the wrath of God on behalf of all that repent of their sins and believe in him. For that kind of benefit to come from his death, Jesus had to be very special.
Being fully man, Jesus could function as our representative. He could live perfectly and die sacrificially. Being fully God, he could bear the infinite wrath of the Father against sinners. His virgin conception and birth allowed Jesus not to partake in Adam’s original sin, so Jesus was completely pure. He had no debts of his own to pay; therefore, he could fully pay for the sins of his people.
All of these beautiful realities flow out of the incarnation, which we celebrate at Christmastime. You could have no greater joy this season than to become a partaker in the life that Jesus offers to you. His blessed birth qualified him for his blessed death and resurrection.
If you are still living for yourself, and are spurning the great love of Jesus, do a U-turn today. Turn from your sin and selfishness and believe in the Lord Jesus today. Make the benefits of the wonders of Jesus’ humble birth, life, and death your own by trusting him as your King.
By John Crotts