Sunday, 1 January 2017

Infinity in an infant

In the small village of Nazareth, a teenage girl becomes pregnant outside of marriage.  That was a major scandal in that society.  The law said that she should be put to death.  This girl, Mary, was betrothed to Joseph.  Betrothal was more than engagement—it involved a legally-binding contract that could only be broken by divorce.  Joseph knows he is not the father, yet he is amazingly gracious—he was not going to press charges, was unwilling to put her to shame, and resolved to divorce her quietly.  Of course he assumed that she had cheated on him (what other explanation could there be?), but he was not going to treat her as her supposed sin deserved.

Then an angel appears to Joseph in a dream.  ‘That which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit’ (Matthew 1:21).  They shall call him Immanuel (which means ‘God with us’).  That controversial foetus in Mary’s womb is the Word made flesh.  We refer to this as the incarnation (from Latin words which mean ‘in the flesh’).   

Andrew Wilson says that there a lots of important truths in the gospel, but they all depend on the incarnation.  ‘The cross made possible freedom from sin, and the resurrection secured it, but the writing was on the wall the day Mary got pregnant.’

Who exactly is this Word made flesh?  This foetus is one who was distinct from God the Father (‘the Word was with God’) and yet was God himself (‘the Word was God’).  He is a child stepping into his own creation (‘all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made’).  He is full of light, life, glory, grace and truth—if you have ever doubted the goodness of God, then take some time to examine the person of Jesus!

And this Jesus invites you to know him.  He took on flesh, ‘so that all who received him would become children of God—children born … born of God.’  He would later declare, ‘all that the Father gives to me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away’ (John 6:37).  Approach Jesus with the confidence that the Father is determined not to treat you as your sins deserve but according to his loving-kindness; and, that Jesus never turns away anyone who comes broken by their sin and looking to live for him as their leader.

‘The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.’  The glory of God displayed in weakness and vulnerability.  Spurgeon says, ‘Infinite, and an infant.  Eternal, and yet born of a woman.  Almighty, and yet hanging on a woman’s breast.  Supporting a universe, and yet needing to be carried in a mother’s arm.  King of angels, and yet reported son of Joseph.  Heir of all things, and yet a carpenter’s despised son.  Oh, the wonder of Christmas!’  

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