Last week we looked at the mystery of the Incarnation — Immanuel — “God with us.” We discussed how the reality of the incarnation, God the Son becoming a human being, becoming near to each of us, was a powerful comfort and encouragement to us. We also discussed how our intentional choosing to be near to and present with our children is a tonic for their souls as well.
We also saw how Jesus’ choice to humble Himself and become an obedient servant even unto death on a cross was a powerful pattern for us to emulate — “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:5)
This week, I would like to look at two more aspects of the Incarnation:
The discussion of Mary and the angel over the nuts and bolts of the Incarnation, and The Ongoing Incarnation of Christ — how his dwelling on earth continues day after day.
I first came across the discussion with Mary and Gabriel (Luke 1:26-38) when I was a twenty-year-old foreign exchange student in Denmark. You might be astonished that this was my first encounter with the events of Christmas. “C’mon, everyone has heard the Christmas story!” But aside from Charlie Brown’s Christmas story on TV (which looks only at Luke 2), this unchurched kid never read the details for himself, never had to sit through annual Christmas pageants, never sat through countless Advent series, etc. During my youth group days debating Christianity at a United Presbyterian Church, I was more concerned with sneaking off somewhere with my girlfriend. Christmas cookies were fine; Christmas sermons not so much.
But then alone in Denmark I read about a very young virgin being visited by one of the mighty angels in the universe. I was stunned at the command God made to this young Jewess. She was to become the mother of God’s own Son, Jesus. I was puzzled along with Mary. My questions were similar: “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” Even as Gabriel was explaining the miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit, the skeptic in me was arguing, “But that’s impossible!”
In anticipation, Gabriel concludes, “For nothing will be impossible for God.” There it was. A simple and powerful reality check. If God be God, then a virgin birth is child’s play. I was confronted with an idea that stuck with me for 51 years: “If God created the world and the universe, then He can jolly well do with it what He wants.” The Incarnation, the coming of God the Son through a virgin’s womb, defined reality.
Do you live in a pre-Incarnation worldview or a post-Incarnation worldview? Do you have firmly written upon the foundation of your life — “Nothing will be impossible for God”? This statement can undergird us in our moments of fear and anxiety. God is in control of your life, just as He was in control of Mary’s. He is just as in control of your future, as He was in control of Israel’s future. The timing of the Incarnation of the Messiah was perfect, though long awaited. Do you rest in His omnipotence and sovereignty? May it give you peace. Even during troubling times that dog the steps of humanity, God has a plan and it is a good one, especially for His children.
And the Incarnation continues… What? I thought this was a one-time event? In one sense, it is absolutely a one-time event. Jesus came once surrendering His deity and picking up humanity for the salvation of mankind. But, He continues to dwell in human form on this earth… through each and every one of His children.
Before the crucifixion, Jesus tutored His disciples in a new reality that was coming for them: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:15-17)
Since God the Spirit continually indwells each and every believer, Jesus continually walks the earth through us, His church. In your home, Jesus is alive since His spirit lives in you. He is a guest at every meal, he kneels down with you at your child’s bedside, he cares for each sick child as He lives through you and uses your hand to cool a feverish forehead or hold a child while he/she is sick at the toilet. At our school, Jesus is alive since His Spirit indwells the teachers and believing parents and students. He walks our sidewalks, He sits in the desks, He joins us for each lunch. He is with every teacher as we plan and present our lessons.
Practicing the presence of Jesus, does not mean to pretend that He is there. It means to acknowledge the reality of God incarnate in our lives through His Spirit!
This year as we celebrate Christmas, may we celebrate the Incarnation. Nothing is impossible for God. He is with us.
God’s best, Christopher