Christianity displays a supernatural view of the cosmos. The origin of the universe was in a decision of Almighty God to create the heavens and the earth. The God who created is not silent. He has spoken through the prophets – through Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Elijah and the writing prophets. Creator God is also triune: the Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God. These three different persons are the one incomparable true and living God.
The three have eternally existed in the closest affection for one another, never is the Father at odds with the Son and the Spirit. There are no neuroses, no tensions, no disagreements, not the slightest unhappiness any person has with another. They are one in their attributes, infinite and eternal. They are unchangeable in their being, wisdom, holiness, power, patience, meekness, kindness and truth. Each delights in the others with adoring affection.
God, having spoken to men and women through his servants the prophets, finally commissions his only begotten Son to come into the world. The Son had visited and communed with people in the appearance of a man on numerous occasions. He walked and talked with our first parents in Eden; he appeared to Abraham; he wrestled with Jacob; he strengthened Gideon as one dressed as a mighty warrior. The Son of God was filled with the anticipation of coming to our beautiful yet groaning globe for vast ages, longing for the set time to come when he would come into a family and village and enjoy especially close friends.
The Son of God came
So, at the right time, in these last days which he inaugurated, the Son of God came. He abandoned none of his distinctive divine attributes. How could he cease for a second being what he eternally had always been and eternally will be? That would be impossible – God no longer God! He remained omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and omnicompetent, but he did veil those characteristics by coming in flesh and blood. He became incarnate, that is, he added to his divinity everything that is human, three-dimensional, historical, touchable and visible in wounded humanity.
He had exactly the same biochemical composition as our own, exactly the same anatomy and physiology, the same central nervous system, the same sensitivity to pain. God did not give him some unique analgesic, a pain killer. The Holy Spirit overshadowed his mother Mary and then she made the same contribution as any human mother makes to the genetic make-up of her child – half his chromosomes came from her while the rest were imparted miraculously by the Holy Spirit in the virgin birth.
The child born in the manger was not ‘everyman’. He was an individual who was an Israelite, a first century man who learned to speak Aramaic and was rooted in the traditions, customs, civil laws and religious laws of his people. Through the umbilical cord he was not only attached to his mother but to the life stream of all the fallen children of Adam. The link with men and women was forged in the womb of Mary and was established as irrefragable, that is, eternally impossible to break, alter or refute.
The man Christ Jesus reigns
At this very moment the man Christ Jesus is seated at the right hand of God. All the authority in and over Heaven is his. All authority over Wales, every nation in the world and every galaxy in the universe is his. This man rules. He does not bear a title of ‘ruler’ while the real power is out of his hands, simply admired and coveted by him. It is his omnipotence over the powers of darkness, over the god of this world and all his little Screwtapes that is his. They are all chained to God the Son, and if they go too far in seeking to destroy one of the children God has given to him, then he yanks the chain.
He remembers that we are dust because he himself was dust and that dust of the earth now reigns at the right hand of God. He sympathises with all his people. No memory cells have faded in his mind. He remembers it all so vividly as if it were today – all the indignities, Satanic temptations, humiliations, taunts and mockeries. He remembers being beaten up when he was blindfolded, the crucifixion and the abandonment upon the cross by his Father and the tearing apart of body and soul in his tasting death. This he has experienced; this he will never forget. In every pang that rends the heart the man of sorrows had a part. So he, like no other, not even one’s tender, caring mother, deeply, deeply sympathises with us as the one who can say, ‘I was there, and there too, and even there. I know what the agony is like. I appreciate deeply what you are going through.’
God became man
This is Mary’s boy child, Jesus Christ, who lies in an animal’s feeding trough – our God contracted to a span. That which he always was, he continued to be, and now began to be something he eternally was not. The infinite became finite; the eternal and supratemporal entered time and became subject to it. The immutable became mutable. The invisible became visible. The Creator became created. The sustainer of all became dependent. The Almighty became weak. God became man.
The truth of the identity of this babe in this manger is stupendous – that there should be in one person the conjunction of all belonging to Godhead and all that belongs to manhood. It would have been humiliation for the Son of God to have become man in the most ideal condition, in a perfectly antiseptic and disinfected environment. Yet more stupendous that the Son of God’s first breath was in a stable, and his first long sleep was in this animal feeding trough in a sinful and sin-cursed world. Christianity does not present a hypothetic incarnation. The Christ was sent and he came totally freely in this world of sin, misery and death.
‘In the likeness of sinful flesh’ is Paul’s striking formula. It is staggering because it is on the very verge of peril. Isn’t the impeccability of Christ at stake? Yet Paul says ‘likeness’ – just like every other fallen child of Adam is born, that in every other is sinful but by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit he was preserved from any guilt.
He is God’s holy child Jesus, lying in the manger, coming for us his people, for our salvation and the redemption of the groaning cosmos.
Oh come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.