by Bill Denton
"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).
"The true Christian religion does not begin at the top, as all other religions do; it begins at the bottom. You must run directly to the manger and the mother's womb, embrace this Infant and Virgin's Child in your arms, and look at Him-born, being nursed, growing up, going about in human society, teaching, dying, rising again, ascending above all the heavens, and having authority over all things."
Martin Luther in Lectures on Galatians, Christianity Today, Vol. 38, no. 14.
If you would like to do away with all the reservation, hesitation, and outright unbelief in Jesus as the Messiah, then start at His birth. Modern man has played down the meaning and implication of the doctrine of the Incarnation. Though we are seldom aware of it any more, the "Christmas story" is actually weighty doctrine. It is not, as many would have it, simply a pastoral manger scene suitable for a children's play re-enactment, or for a drive-by "live" manger out in the church yard, complete with real sheep, a cow, and costumed shepherds and wise men. No, there is far more to the birth of Jesus than such scenes tend to convey.
When Jesus was born, He was, as the Scriptures say, Emmanuel, "God with us." If you get that one single point, if you understand that the baby born to Mary was God in the flesh of humanity, then you are prepared for all that follows. This child, though in every appearance, a human being like all the rest of us, was in every sense God as well. The mystery of the Incarnation may still puzzle us, but once we accept this fundamental fact, the rest of the story of Jesus becomes completely understandable and acceptable.
Take the miracles of Jesus, as an example. Believing in a miracle worker is not easy, unless the miracle worker is God, and then miracles become easy to believe because of the One causing them to happen. Consider Jesus' offer to forgive sins. Who could do that except God alone, questioned the Jews-and us. Such a claim would be ridiculous, except for the fact that Jesus was the very One we acknowledge as possessing the power to forgive.
Take His resurrection from the dead. Not only is resurrection from death completely unexpected, but according to the Apostle Paul, it declares one more thing to us: Jesus was the Son of God. Start wherever you like in the life of Jesus, and if you find it difficult to accept or believe, return to the stable where He was born and ask yourself, "Who was the child born to Mary?"
Once you settle the answer to that question, there is no further obstacle to belief. We do not have to wait for a man to become God, for God has already become man. All the power of divine grace, love, and mercy found its grandest expression in that Child. "God with us," is the explanation we need. Rejoice at the birth of the Savior, who is Christ the Lord, God in the flesh.
Get this point firmly fixed in your mind and heart, and you will then see God at work in that Jesus says and does.
© 2005, Bill Denton
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