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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Mysteries

An angel told some shepherds they would find Baby Jesus “wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” Who provided the swaddling cloths? Perhaps Joseph and Mary had carried them to Bethlehem in case Mary would give birth there. Perhaps the innkeeper provided them. In that case, he may not have been as mean as we have been led to believe. What is truly significant is the fact that cloths covered Jesus’ body when He was born and also when He died (John 19:40).
            The Incarnation is a far greater mystery. Jesus’ life did not begin with His birth at Bethlehem. He is eternal. He always lived in face-to-face fellowship with God the Father. John began his Gospel by asserting that “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). He described the Word as the One through whom everything was made (v. 3). This eternal Creator, the Word, John wrote, “became flesh and dwelt among us” (v. 14). Those few words describe the Incarnation. How could God the Creator become a human being like us in every respect except one? He did not have a sin nature, because He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin.
            Of course, Jesus became human and led a sinless life so He could die as our perfect sacrificial Substitute. First Corinthians 15:3 and 4 tell us plainly that “Christ died for our sins . . . was buried . . . and rose again.” His resurrection proved that God accepted His sacrifice for our sins (Romans 4:25). But why did He love us so sacrificially? That’s an unsolvable mystery. We didn’t deserve such love. Romans 5:8 states that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
            Another Christmas mystery: Why do so many people celebrate Christmas but reject the Christ of Christmas? John 1:11 conveys the astonishing, sad news that Jesus, the Word, “came to His own [His own creation and His own people], and His own did not receive Him. If you haven’t received Jesus by faith as your personal Savior, why not receive Him today? The gift of eternal life will be yours (1 John 5:11, 12).
            Merry Christmas!