Each time Christmas rolls around I long for a fresh glimpse into the meaning of Christ’s coming into our world. God has blessed my heart with a fresh sense of His speaking to me through the old, old, story. Here’s a synopsis:
1. The Incarnation, though a once-in-all-eternity occurrence, was not something abrupt or disconnected from God’s previous activity on the planet.
There were people in the Old Testament who truly knew and walked with God. They were many people who were considered faithful and righteous by God. Luke brings some of them to the forefront in the narrative he gives us of the events surrounding Christ’s birth. The “righteous” folk he refers to were clearly the ones who believed the promise of a Messiah and who longed for His appearing. Luke gives us a glimpse into this with the stories of Zechariah and Elizabeth, and Simeon and Anna. Faith involves anticipating and expecting God to come to us. The Spirit of God has always worked among the people who belong to Him to help them anticipate His activity and presence among them. Let us never stop being a people who expect our God to be with us.
2. The Incarnation both removes burdens and creates them.
The coming of Messiah removed Zechariah and Elizabeth’s reproach, as it was the reason for a son (John the Baptist) finally being born to them in their old age. But the same coming of Messiah created reproach for Joseph and Mary! Her pregnancy was viewed as illegitimate, as she was not yet fully married when she became pregnant. This reproach was not fully lifted until Christ rose from the dead. Only then could everyone know that Mary had not made up the story about the angel and the virgin birth.
Among other things this shows me that when we trust and obey God, sometimes the benefits are immediate and obvious to all. But sometimes our obedience to God’s purposes is costly and not appreciated by those around us. Sometimes we must persevere until resurrection day when each man’s praise comes not from man, but from God.
Life is not worth living if it is not full of anticipation for the Savior. And we must be expectant upfront that a real relationship with Jesus will both lift our burdens and also create some burdens. But the burdens that are created by our obedience are always shared by the Savior! Joseph and Mary might have been rumored about or criticized, but all they had to do was look into the face of their Jesus. They knew the truth. And it (He!) gave them the strength to carry on.
I pray that you will also be able to look into the face of Christ this Christmas. Every glimpse we get into His glory strengthens us and propels us into the future He has ordained.