Is there a thing as a child who was born old? That certainly is an outright biological anomaly and a sheer impossibility! But the Bible will have us know that, Jesus, whose birth we are celebrating, the helpless baby born in a manger in Bethlehem some 2000 years ago, existed before the foundation of the world!
In theology, the birth we are celebrating is called the incarnation— God manifested in the flesh. The second person of the Trinity- Jesus Christ, the Son of God took on human flesh to live among humankind.
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. (1 Timothy 3:16).
The Bible describes the incarnation as a mystery. A mystery in New Testament language is not something that cannot be fathomed, rather, it is a knowledge of a revelation of God hidden from humankind, but revealed at the right time. Rightly so, the incarnation is a mystery. The prophets who prophesied about the incarnation and the angels of heaven who dwell in God’s presence could not figure out when this will be. They longed to know when this mystery will unfold (1Peter 1:10-12).
But eventually, “…when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as [children]. (Galatians 4:4-5). God the Son, came down and lived among His creation. During His earthly ministry, He discipled apostles who documented His earthly ministry in the gospels and epistles (see John 1:1-14, 1John 1:1-5, 2Peter 1:16-18).
Luke in the introduction to his gospel, opens with words attesting to the life and work of Jesus.
Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed. (Luke 1:1-4).
Luke, like all the other writers of the New Testament, moved by the Spirit of God (2Peter 1:20-21, 2Timothy 3:16), documented the sequence of events as they had witnessed it, thereby laying all controversies to rest. It is of vital importance to us as well, during this season as we commemorate the birth of Jesus to carefully examine what we are told concerning this baby who is the reason for the season.
The Angels’ Herald
Shortly after the birth of Jesus, an angel appeared to a group of Shepherds with the unusual message (Luke 2: 9-14). The message of the angels was simply, ‘a baby is born who is Saviour, Christ and Lord! What does this message mean?
God, Lord and Master
The original word the angels used for ‘Lord’ in Luke 2:9-4 is supreme in authority, controller; by implication, God, Lord and Master. It also means He is the Messiah (Saviour). At His birth, the angels’ message announced the fact that this child was already Lord, and had supreme authority as God over all. The New Testament abounds with evidence to the fact that Jesus had indeed existed before He was born. Countless times during His life on earth He affirmed this by claiming to be one with God, to be God, and to have existed before Abraham (John 8:58; 10:30 17:5; Mark 2:10). The birth of Jesus Christ therefore was not the creation of a new person; His person and nature (as God) existed before time.
Christ the Saviour
The angels added that Jesus was the Christ! By this they implied that He was the anointed or chosen one, who was born to save the world. Seven hundred years before He was born, the prophet Micah said this about Him: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” (Micah 5:2).
The question one might ask is, from what does Christ save us? The Bible tells us that when our first parents, Adam and Eve disobeyed God (see Genesis 2&3), all of Adam’s posterity inherited the results of that disobedience. All humans, who ever lived, with the exception of Christ Jesus, were rendered sinners and in bondage to sin and Satan because of Adam’s disobedience; “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”(Romans 3:23). So that inherited sin–original sin-separates us from God as the Scripture states. We cannot help ourselves, so Jesus came as a ‘second Adam’ to redeem fallen humankind from Satan’s tyranny and reconcile us to God (1Corinthians 15:21-22).
John Henry Newman aptly described our need for a Saviour when he wrote:
O loving wisdom of our God,
When all was sin and shame,
He, the last Adam, to the fight
And to the rescue came.
For Christ to be able to save sinners, He had to be holy and sinless. Prior to His birth, the angel Gabriel bringing the announcement of His birth to Mary whom God chose to be His mother, proclaimed the child who was to be born would be holy from the time of His conception (Luke 2: 30-32; 34-35). Though He took on human form at His birth, the Bible tells us He was without sin and lived a perfect life: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin”. (Hebrews 4:15).
Christ lived a perfect life and this is why He is able to save us from our sins – because He is Lord, and He is Christ; sinless and holy! It takes only the God-man to do this. And He saves all who come to Him in faith, trusting Him to be their Lord. Understand the truth about His birth and person as you celebrate Christmas.