THE MIRACLE OF CHRISTMAS
Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year. It’s a season of quality time spent together. A time of rest and recovery. A time of slowing down and enjoying things that matter most. At the same time, Christmas brings a spirit of energy. Holiday music, festive gatherings, delicious food, the exchange of gifts – all of it uniquely culminates in this worldwide holiday.
For many of us, however, this joyous season leading up to the celebration of Christmas is often tarnished by contentious family gatherings, excessive commercialism, and an overwhelming busyness that distracts from the central message of the holiday.
And lost in all of this is the true miracle of Christmas. The miracle of the Son of God entering into the world He created.
A few well-intentioned but misguided clichés about remembering that Jesus is the reason for the season do not do justice to the forgotten miracle. Of course, a celebration of the birth of Jesus is indeed the reason for the season. Without the nativity of Jesus, Christmas would not exist.
Certainly, we must remember the reality that God sent his only begotten Son into this world so that he might live a perfect life in fulfillment of the law of God; that he might willingly lay down his life on the cross as the perfect sacrifice; that he might satisfy the wrath of God in the place of sinners; that he might suffer and die in our place; that he might resurrect from the grave, conquering death; and that he might offer this great way of salvation to all who would repent and believe. That is the reason that Jesus came. That is why Christmas exists.
But even then, the true miracle of Christmas is overlooked – that is, the miracle of the incarnation.
When the fullness of time had come (Galatians 4:4), God sent forth his Son to come into the world so that he might accomplish redemption for those who would believe. So that he might succeed where Adam had failed.
But the Son did not just suddenly appear in the world. Instead, he entered into the created world by way of a supernatural conception and miraculous birth. Mary, the chosen vessel who would become the mother of the world’s Savior, was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18) even though she was a virgin.
And it was through this miraculous birth that the Son of God was born into this world. The second person of the Trinity took on humanity. The Word became flesh (John 1:14).
This miraculous birth orchestrated by God allowed the Christmas miracle of the incarnation to occur. Being born of a woman, Jesus was fully man. Yet the miraculous birth from the Holy Spirit also allowed Jesus to maintain his full deity.
And so the miracle of Christmas entered into the world as an infant – fully God, yet fully man. Simultaneously divine and human. While still remaining what he was (God), he became what he was not (man). A miracle beyond comprehension.
As the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus was fully God and thus was able to perfectly fulfill the demands of the divine law – to fulfill what the first Adam had failed to do. More importantly, he was able to bear the weight of the sin of man and to satisfy the wrath of God entirely as the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10).
Yet simultaneously, Jesus was fully man. He took on flesh and walked on the earth as a man. He had a human body (he ate, slept, faced physical weakness, and died), a human mind (he increased in wisdom), and had human emotions (amazement, sorrow, anger). He was made like us in every way (Hebrews 2:17) as one who can sympathize with our weaknesses and was tempted just as we are (Hebrews 4:15).
The divine and human nature were both completely and simultaneously present within the person of Jesus Christ (referred to by theologians as the hypostatic union). As one who was fully God and fully man, Jesus was able to serve as the one and only mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5). And it was all made possible by the miracle on the night that we now celebrate at Christmas.
The incarnation, when deeply considered, is the most amazing miracle in all of Scripture. It’s even more incomprehensible than God creating the heavens and the earth or the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. As one theologian put it, “The fact that the infinite, omnipotent, eternal Son of God could become man and join himself to a human nature forever, so that infinite God became one person with finite man, will remain for eternity the most profound miracle and the most profound mystery in all the universe.”
It truly is the miracle of Christmas. And it is a miracle worth celebrating.