We’re in the season of expectancy, preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ. There was a season of expectancy before his actual birth 2,000 years ago–expectancy both on earth, where prophecies of a coming Messiah were passionately studied and only partly understood, and also in heaven, where the eternal God was preparing to break in to time and space and human life. It has been said that Jesus was the only person who chose to be born.
Matthew and Luke tell the story of Jesus’ birth “from the ground up,” through the eyes and ears of Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the Magi. John (John 1:1-14) gives us the view from the sky, as it were:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John [the Baptist]. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The Word became flesh on that first Christmas. We use words to express meaning and to connect with one another. From the beginning there was meaning and there was relationship among the three Persons of the Godhead. From the creation of man, God’s intent has been that we would live with full understanding of meaning, and in close relationship with him, with one another, and with all of his creation. No one needs to be convinced that we have not lived out that ideal. The Word became flesh to restore us to it. Merry Christmas indeed!
He was and he is both life and light. By coming to live as a human among humans, he opened to us the door to true life in true light. John says his own people did not receive him, and tragically some still will not see his bright light. But those who do receive him are born into new life through him. It’s a life of grace and truth: truth to guide us, to show us what is real and what is right, and grace so that we can recover from our failures in living by what is real and right.
The message of Christmas is not just about a stable and a star, not just a mother and a child. It’s about the glory of God shining on earth, through one who became flesh to show us his great glory.
This is what heaven was looking forward to during that first advent season. Merry Christmas indeed!