By GELINDE NAREKINE
TOO often, we forget to dedicate time to think about the message Christmas was intended to remind us of – the message of God’s greatest miracle. This grand event took place to fulfill promise God made when man fell from glory.
The first book of the Bible, Genesis, in its third chapter, states, “Then the Lord God said to the serpent: Because you have done this, you are cursed more than any livestock and more than any wild animal. You will move on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life. I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”
A child was then born in Bethlehem, a birth witnessed only by the meek and ordinary earthly creatures. There was no decent place for his dear mother to rest upon, nor a fancy cradle to place the first fruit of her womb. But then the heavenly hosts in multitude witnessed his birth. With sounds of praise, the angels announced his coming to earth, not to kings nor thrones, but to the everyday shepherds keeping watch over their flock at night. Christ the Son of God was born Jesus the child of Mary, unfolding the mystery of God’s plan for the salvation of the fallen man.
Did Mary really know that when she kissed her little baby she actually kissed the face of God? And did she know that the sleeping child she was holding was the “Great I Am?” Joseph may have placed Jesus in a simple wooden cradle, and watching over the sleeping child, probably said in total reverence, “you are not supposed to be like this; but as ordinary as I am, this is all I have to offer, as you dwell in my house.” Such a strange way to save the world from Satan, sin, and eternal death.
Biblical scholars claim the Bible records more than 100 accounts of miracles by a small number of individuals. Of all these miracles, the greatest is that incomprehensible act by which God became a human. He was born to an ordinary young Jewish girl, who was pledged to be married to a simple lowly man of trade.
The power of the life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ does not lie in the events themselves, but derived from the person of Jesus himself, who and what he was and is. His words have power and authority because they are the words of God incarnate. His life has power because it is the life of God incarnate. His death and resurrection have power because they are the death and resurrection of God incarnate. All other events that followed could not have been if God never became man.
Is it any surprise then that three of the four gospels begin their record of Jesus’ work by emphasising the wonder of his incarnation? Matthew recounts how Jesus was miraculously conceived in the womb of Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, and that he was “God with us.” Luke makes it clear that Jesus was the Son of God. John describes how the Eternal Word, who is God, had become ﬂesh as Jesus Christ to dwell among us.
John chapter 1 verses 1 to 5 states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created. Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it.”
It is clear that Apostle John is speaking of the Son of God here. Because in verse 14 he says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” It indicates that among the members of the Trinity, it is especially God the Son who in his person as well as in his words has the role of communicating the character of God, and of expressing His will for us. All these scriptures collectively and explicitly declare one thing out loud, the divinity of Jesus Christ.
Apostle Paul says in Colossians chapter 1 verse 16, “For by him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, powers, rulers, or authorities, all thing were created by him and for him.”
He further states in chapter 2 verse 9 of the same book, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity (Divine) lives in the bodily form (God the spirit now in physical being). And we read in Hebrew chapter 1 verse 3, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.” Whilst, in Philippians chapter 2 verse 6 he writes that Christ, “being in very nature God,” took up human form and nature. These scriptures throw light on one fact, that Christ is God and man in one person, Jesus.
By a miracle that surpasses all human understanding and comprehension, the Creator entered his creation, the Eternal entered time, God became human. C.S. Lewis, an acclaimed theologian called it “The Grand Miracle”. He further stated that “every other miracle prepares for this, or exhibits this, or results from this. It was the central event in the history of the Earth”. Thus, the miracle of miracles it was.
It was for the salvation of man that God has to become man. For the unseen God to become a seen physical being, the unseen has to be born in the seen. Thus, to fulfill the divine agenda set forth by the Father in Genesis, Christ, the Begotten One has to be born as Jesus, the boy child of Mary. God became man of flesh and blood, and yet, divine in all essence.
What makes Jesus Christ different from the other great religious teachers, prophets, or philosophers? If any adjective were to describe Jesus, it would be ‘unique’. His message was unique. The claims He made regarding Himself were unique. His miracles were unique. And the influence He has had on the world is unsurpassed by any other.
Jesus was no ordinary man, nor was he merely a great teacher, rabbi, guru, or even a prophet. In a way, He was all these, but much more. For unlike the other great religious teachers who came before or after him, Jesus not only spoke about love and God, but he was love and, he was the Son of God.
Many came, but failed
See, many came before and after Jesus, claiming to be of God, the messengers, the chosen ones, and so on and on. But all have failed to prevail. Like smoke screen, they all perished into thin air, and their claims, all went the same way they disappeared.
But, Jesus? What of his claims, of being the Anointed One? The Son of the Living God? The Begotten of the Father? Were these claims buried with him in the tomb? And when he was raised from death, left his claims still buried deep within the tomb? No. On the contrary, Jesus physically rose from death still holding onto his claims, confirmed and affirmed beyond any reasonable doubt.
Claims still sound today as on the day they were spoken
To this day, not even a single word of his has been altered into vanity. And his claims still stand as sound as on that very day he spoke them. Christ, the Son of the Living God, is the rock on which the Church stands on, and will remain as such.
Philip Schaff, a noted historian once said: “This Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, and Napoleon. Without science and learning, he shed more light on things human and things divine than all philosophers and scholars combined. Without the eloquence of schools, he spoke such Words of Life as were never spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet.
“Without writing a single line, he set more pens in motion and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art, and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times.” A profoundly powerful statement indeed.
One very outstanding and undeniably unique aspect of the life of Jesus is that it fulfilled literally, hundreds of predictions and prophecies written in the Bible, made by ancient prophets and seers – many of them centuries before he was born. These prophecies gave specific details regarding his birth, life, death, and resurrection that no mere mortal could possibly have fulfilled in perfect harmony and with such precision.
Some may argue that the creation story expresses the greatest miracle. But, God created the universe whilst being God, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. When He spoke, and by the power of his words, all things both the seen and the unseen came into being. For that same God to become man is beyond every human comprehension.
Others may claim that angels became man too, so Christ becoming man was of no different. But angels, we believe have form and supernatural substance inferior to the Son. And so for the Son of God who in essence equal to the Father to take the form of mere man, the created creature, is beyond every conceivable imagination.
Various passages indicate that Jesus had limitations in his human nature. For example, he was “tired…from the journey,” in John chapter 4 verse 6, “hungry” in Matthew chapter 21 verse 18, “thirsty” in John chapter 19 verse 28. And most significantly, “he suffered death” in Hebrew chapter 2 verse 9, subjected to pain, shame, and death, like a common criminal. These clearly depict the human nature that Christ took on.
Christ was in the world when he took upon our nature, and lived among us. The Son of the Most High was here in this lower world. He was in the world, but not of it. He came to save a lost world, because it was a world of his own making. By his Divine presence Christ always was in the world. But then he became man, he was God manifested in the flesh.
Those most intimate with him saw the beams of his Divine glory, which darted through this veil of flesh. His Divine glory appeared in the holiness of his doctrine, and in his miracles. He was full of grace, and fully acceptable to his Father. He was full of truth, and fully aware of the things he was to reveal.
His coming in the flesh, speaks great encouragement to us sinners, that our Savior is the Seed of the woman, bone of our bone, as Hebrews chapter 2 verses 11 and 14 state. His sufferings and death were Satan’s attempt at bruising his heel, that is, his human nature. By his death he gave a fatal blow to the devil’s kingdom, and a wound to the head of this serpent that cannot be healed. And as the gospel gained ground, Satan fell. By his victory, Christ baffled Satan’s temptations and rescued souls out of his hands.
When Christ became man, he was fully human. And when it came for His time to complete his journey on earth and return to his Heavenly throne, the physical being had to be broken and shattered so to allow the supernatural to reign supreme. Jesus the man had to be destroyed so that Christ the Son of the Living God would then take precedence.
The pain, torment, and suffering that Jesus went through all the way to crucifixion and death by the cross, were all part of God’s divine plan and purpose for that transition to occur. Jesus the man to has to become fully God again, and hence, for the salvation of man.
Two thousand years ago, God, in all his divinity but packaged in a child, walked out of Heaven and crawled into the world. His birth was very ordinary. He lived a very simple nomadic life style, but died a very shameful, painful, and dreadful death. His resurrection was ascertained by a few, and his ascension, witnessed only by his devoted followers. All in all, he descended into his own creation, so that, by ascending again he might lift it up with him from bondage and decay, and into freedom and glory.
Jesus Christ was God and man in single human person. A biblical scholar puts it this way, “In the incarnation, God the Son took up a human nature and human attributes. The divine and the human natures did not combine or mingle, so that both sets of attributes remained separate. His divine nature was not diminished by his human nature, and his human nature was not deified by his divine nature.”
His life-changing words have stood test of time and continue to have extraordinary significance for mankind. Henceforth, kingdoms and thrones will rise and fall, but the core message of Christmas will remain ‘The Greatest of all Miracles’ for all Eternity.
Source of information:
- Cheung, V 2010, ‘Christ’, in Systematic Theology, 3rd ed., International Bible Society, Zondervan Publishing, viewed 03 February 2017, http://www.vincentcheung.com>books
- Mears, D 2021, Jesus Christ: The Incarnation: The Greatest Miracle, Grace Communion International, viewed 17 October 2021, http://www.gci.org
- Olive Tree Bible Software’s Bible Study 6, http://olivetree.com/bible-study-app/
- The Greatest Miracle in the Bible, viewed 17 October 2021, https://www.riverviewbaptist.net
- Who Jesus really is, viewed 31 October 2021, http://www.tommyswindow.com
Gelinde Narekine is a technical officer in the discipline of Medical Laboratory Science, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Papua New Guinea