As we approach the height of the Christmas season I am lost in my thoughts about what it all means. The world has a way of taking the things of God and coloring them in its materialistic colors. The god of this world (Satan) cannot stand genuine worship of Christ, his enemy, so he does what he can to shape Christian truths in his false image so people can’t see the reality. I believe he has accomplished that with our celebration of the birth of Christ.
So, as Christmas nears let me share what I think it means. It is our feeble attempt to celebrate the incarnation of our Lord. He came into this world in the flesh to accomplish the redemption of mankind. John wrote about this in his Gospel: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). God revealed Himself in the form of a living human being.
The only way that could happen was by somehow being conceived in the womb of a virgin, someone never touched by another man. Isaiah spoke of this many years before the event: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). The name Immanuel means “God with us” hinting that God would be the One who made His entrance through this virgin.
Hear is the punchline of my message: God required a willing recipient who would faithfully receive this conception into her body. So He sent the angel Gabriel to the city of Nazareth to propose an amazing thing to a young virgin named Mary:
Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end” (Luke 1:30–33).
Mary’s response was what we would expect: “How can this be, since I am a virgin? (v. 34).
After Gabriel explained this amazing miracle of God, Mary gave her response to the divine proposal: “’Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her” (v. 38).
And so we have the redemptive heart of God revealed for all the earth through all of the ages. He politely comes to us and presents Himself to us and waits for our reply. How we reply to His offer of redemption will secure our eternal relationship with Him. Mary believed God’s word through the angel and accepted the divine conception into her body. She would bear the Messiah in her womb and give birth to the One who is “God with us.”
Now here is the amazing truth that many Christmas celebrators miss in all the hustle and bustle of the season. God makes the same proposal to you that He made to Mary. He offers you the gift of His Son to come dwell in your spirit, the spiritual womb within us. He says to us much the same as He said to Nicodemus: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). The term “born again” can be translated “born from above.” Jesus was telling Nicodemus that all of his theological concerns must be replaced with this one truth: “You must be born again” (3:7).
Birth requires a conception, a conceiving in the womb of a new life. God has given us a human spirit that enables us to receive the seed of God’s word into our being. “Be it unto me according to your word” Mary replied. She received the implanted word of God, the Word of God, Christ Himself. God visits every human and makes the same proposal. Some receive the word and others reject it but it is offered by God as a free gift to all.
So, we give gifts on Christmas but Christ gave us the greatest free gift of all — His life. Christ is no longer a far away, remote person but someone living within our hearts. Paul spoke of it as a great mystery that is summarized in the words “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).
Merry Christmas to all.