“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” – Luke 2:7
Truth is ever more than meets the eye, and even more when presented in paradox.
This was an ordinary birth. Yet, this was a holy birth. Inconceivably majestic and yet unsuspectingly menial. Never was there a more royal birth. Never was glory so veiled. It was an ordinary night—and yet, it was an extraordinary night. Completely common, yet distinctively divine. It was the miraculous masked in the mundane, the spectacular swathed in the simple, the astonishing adorned in the average, the exceptional encountered in the everyday, the profound presented in the plain. It manifests nothing less the Holy hid in humanity, the Creator concealed in a child. That night, the world met immortality cloaked in infancy, omniscience cloaked in ignorance, omnipotence cloaked in impotence, omnipresence cloaked in ounces and inches.
All who see beyond its surface and apprehend more than its appearance, behold the indescribable and feel the thrill of that authentic wonder of God come in humanity.
Unapproachable, brilliant and glorious Light,
descends from heaven to heal us in our plight;
not by our request, reasoning, or legal right,
but contrary to our desert, came He on that unsuspecting night.
No birth ever introduced a more important life to this world of death. History is divided and defined by it. By it, hope is demonstrated and anticipated. The rescue and restoration of creation is proclaimed in its light. Transformative joy dawns with this one labor and delivery. It was a holy birth.
While unrest surrounds us and makes our minds anxious, the wonder of the incarnation calmly whispers to our souls, “Be still, O soul, hope is born! For God has come!”
God has come! God has come! What news! The power of the poet, the magic of music, and even the force of feelings are poor things to convey the mighty wonder of the incarnation. Spurgeon exclaims, “Sing, sing, O universe, till thou hast exhausted thyself, yet thou canst not chant an anthem so sweet as the song of the Incarnation!” And Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335 – c. 395) rightly extols, “O inexpressible mystery and unheard paradox: the Invisible is seen, the Intangible is touched, the eternal Word becomes accessible to our speech, the Timeless steps into time, the Son of God becomes the Son of Man!”
Why this holy birth? What hope does it bring? To make God known to man, for His glory and man’s joy (John 1:1, 14, 18; 17:3). How? By the coming of God to atone for man’s sin (1 John 4:10). It has well been said, “Man can suffer, but he cannot satisfy; God can satisfy, but He cannot suffer.” This holy birth embodies the purpose of a holy death (Hebrews 10:4-5). The New Testament knows nothing of an incarnation that can be defined apart from its relation to substitutionary atonement (Hebrews 2:17). Altogether, then, we see that this holy birth is not so much a marvel of nature as a wonder of grace.
May it stimulate us in worship, sanctify us in truth, purify us in hope, and inspire us in joy.