‘Tis the season of Advent, the period before Christmas when we await the arrival (birth) of our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. Advent is a season of celebration, anticipation, contemplation and reflection. It is also a time when we focus on two of God’s greatest miracles.
One of those miracles is quite common. It has been repeated literally billions of times. It is the nativity or birth of a baby boy, a normal human. Still, this birth, like all human births, was a miracle.
The second is unique. It has happened only once in all of the history of the universe. It is the miracle of the Incarnation.
The word nativity is a synonym for birth. It is the birth of Jesus that we celebrate on Christmas. Jesus was born fully human, just as all of us were born human. Every human conception and birth is a miracle in that we are each uniquely made. We are made in the imago dei, the image of God. God has a purpose and a plan for each of us. And He loves us, each one of us individually and uniquely, above all other things.
Yet there are very unique things about this particular Nativity. The mother was a maiden, a virgin. With modern technology (artificial insemination), that is not uncommon today. So, what made this conception so unique? It was the miracle of the Incarnation!
Incarnation literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient (able to be touched or felt) creature (generally a human) who is the material manifestation of an entity, god or force whose original nature is immaterial. (Wikipedia)
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14, KJV)
Via the Incarnation, God Himself in the person of God the Son left the splendor of heaven. He left the heavenly presence of The Father and The Spirit. He left behind the power, glory and majesty in which He had always existed. In obedience to The Father, God the Son squeezed Himself into a human embryo to be born as we are all born. By the Incarnation, God the Son very literally became Emmanuel, God with us.
God the Son gave up a lot to also be Jesus, the man. He suffered more than we can possibly imagine as Jesus the man. He did so willingly and with full knowledge of what lay ahead. Why?
He came to know us.
There is an old saying that we can’t really know another until and unless we’ve walked in their shoes. While I don’t believe that God (the Trinity) has this limitation, by taking on the flesh of man, God the Son was able to actually experience all of the things that we humans do. He faced temptation and suffered pain. He experienced joy. He was exposed very up close and personally to humanity from the inside out.
He came to show us.
As a man, Jesus taught us, led us and showed us by His deeds how we are supposed to live. By His dual nature, both human and God, He had the knowledge and authority to do so. But He lived as a man. He died a human death. He brought us hope and salvation through His taking on the flesh of man. And He was resurrected!
He came to love us.
As a man, Jesus lived a life of love. His love was not simply emotion, it was action. Jesus was love incarnate.
So, my dear friends, Advent is preparation to celebrate a birth, The Nativity. Its uniqueness and importance, however, lie in The Incarnation.
All of this is expressed beautifully in one of my favorite songs by Michael Card: The Final Word
Alive in The Word
Thanks to my rabbi, Pastor Michael.