The word literal is complicated. According to one of the first definitions in the dictionary, literal means: “adhering...to the ordinary construction of primary meaning of a term or expression.” In other words, being literal can just mean saying what you mean to say, giving primary importance in the moment to...
Jesus Christ is the Lord, our king. Did you know that the Bible refers to Jesus as Lord 20 more times than Savior? The Bible is busy proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord. And, this isn’t an unfamiliar title. The title “Lord” referred to Yahweh in the Old Testament. The Lord is the One parted the Red Sea, revealed himself at Sinai, destroyed the walls of Jericho, sent fire from heaven at the call of Elijah, and upheld the mighty Kings and Prophets of old.
The Bible does not merely use the same name for Jesus but declares he is the Lord. We read in Colossians 1 that “in [Jesus] the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:19), and later in chapter 2, that “in [Jesus] the whole fullness of deity dwel[t] bodily.” Jesus, in the flesh, was God. He was “the image of the invisible God” (1:15).
Jesus was Lord before his coming to the earth. And, he remains the Lord still. However, surely there are people who ask: Why did Jesus have to come? Why did he have to come as a baby?
The Beauty of the Incarnation
Jesus didn’t earn the title Lord because of what he did on earth. Rather, he was worthy of the title from the beginning of existence. When one begins to think this way, God’s unique wisdom is on full display as we consider the fullness of God, and the fullness of humanity, that was contained in the babe in the manger.
If Jesus had come from heaven as an adult human, it would be hard to consider his human qualities. And, if he came from two humans, it would be hard to consider his God qualities. There is infinite wisdom in the Virgin Mary conceiving by the power of the Holy Spirit. It had to be this way. Jesus could not properly represent humanity without being human, and he couldn’t properly overcome sin, and be perfectly obedient without being God.
The beauty of the incarnation is in the manner of which it happened. Jesus was perfectly equipped and positioned to be our Savior. There was never, and will never, be another Savior.
Though it may be a unique place to look for a Christmas reflection, I want to draw our attention to Genesis, chapter 15. Genesis 15 curiously describes a time when God was with Abraham. Just a few chapters earlier, God promised to make Abraham the Father of many offspring, and that he would be a blessing for the nations. Here, God formalizes these promises to Abraham.
Starting in verse 12, God caused Abraham to fall into a deep sleep, but not before he instructed Abraham to take several different types of animals, cut them in two, and lay each half a short distance apart (v. 9-10), so that a type of runway formed. This was a common set-up when two individuals wanted to make a commitment to each other. The Bible uses the word ‘oath’ to describe this type of binding agreement.
Essentially, both parties would walk between the halved animals. This created a visual reminder that if either failed to uphold their side of the commitment, the covenant, what had happened to the carcasses, would be their fate also—death!
The Covenant Ritual with one Exception
And, this ritual happened in Genesis 15, with one main exception: Abraham was sleeping! God, represented by a smoking fire-pot and a flaming torch—the same elements that represented God later in the wilderness before his people in the book of Exodus—passed between the halves alone!
By walking between the halves alone, God was communicating that if He failed to keep up His end of the agreement, it would mean the curse of death would be on Him. He was also communicating that if Abraham—or any member of Abraham’s line—would fail to keep up their end of the agreement, it would mean the curse of death would also be on God!
In this act, God bound himself to humanity, forever. If man would ever thereafter fail to obey, perfectly, the parameters of their relationship—later represented by the Old Testament Law—the consequence would be the death of God himself.
If you think this sounds funny, just think of the cross—at the cross, God held up his end of the agreement!
Great Celebration and Great Commitment
So, you see, when we talk about Christmas, and the coming of Jesus in the manger, it had to be the Lord Jesus born in human form. Though we understand there to be great love in the celebration of Christmas—after all, John 3:16 tell us, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son.” But, in this love there is also great commitment.
It is important, that we have a proper scope. When our scope is simply the manger, and the birth, we warm our hearts, and we remind ourselves of the purity of Christ. But, when our scope is the whole framework of the Bible, starting in Genesis, and God’s full dealings with humanity, we can see that the manger was simply another step along the way to the cross. Jesus’ coming was for the purpose of dying. He is true to his word in Genesis 15.
Jesus is the perfect sacrifice. Jesus died, in the flesh, taking our place for our rebellion. We did not and do not hold up our side of the agreement. But, God is faithful to hold it up for us. Friends, let me remind you, the Christian life does not depend on what you can do, and have done for Christ, but it rests entirely on what Jesus Christ, the Lord, has done for you.
Ponder the Coming of the Lord
Jesus Christ, came as a baby— taking on our condition, yet remaining faithful to the Father, where we could not. Jesus, in his life, death, and heavenly rule is righting every wrong concerning sin, both in ourselves and in the world. He set out to be, and remains, the only Savior, and hope, for those who call on him and receive his grace, by faith.
This Christmas season, it is my prayer that we’d not only consider the love of the Father, or consider only a baby in a manger, but also ponder the necessity and direction of Jesus’s coming. The Lord had to come. The Lord had to die. And he now lives in glory with a name that is above every name
So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)
Jesus, Our Lord and King, we worship you; we honor you. You came to the earth 2000 years ago, perfectly. You lived as we do, yet were obedient in all circumstances, perfectly. And now, Lord, you reign in heaven, ruling over all—perfectly. Jesus, you are King of the universe. Yet in wisdom became a baby in flesh. Then a lamb which was slain. We understand our need, as sinners, is outside our ability to address. We also understand, Lord, that because of you, we do not need to remain in rebellion. For you laid down your life that we might live. Oh Lord, draw hearts to yourself. In the name of Christ, soften hearts of stone, and birth faith. To the glory and praise of God. Amen.