The birth of Christ was a unique event: God coming to live in the body of a baby. Emmanuel means, “God with us.” Some people might think that because He was born that the Son didn’t exist before the Incarnation. Not So! Philippians 2:6-8 tells us that, “He, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped [hung onto], but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in the appearance of a man…” As we can see, Jesus was with God BEFORE He came to earth.
We get a clear picture of the Father’s Plan in Ephesians 1:3-4, “How we praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we belong to Christ. Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.”
The same way that God came through Christ into the world, He comes into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Christ is born into our hearts even as we are born into Him! “…God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, and now you can call God your dear Father.” Gal. 4:6 We tend to use the picture of baptism when referring to being born again, but Jesus eluded to this concept of being born in us when He was praying on the night He was betrayed, “My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one, Father–that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me.”
Did you catch the reason for the “One” concept? It’s meant as the very thing that makes Christianity unique–and desirable. Being one with God through Jesus makes all His followers one. This oneness is what attracts future believers to Christ.
The presence of God in the world had been promised since Adam, again through Abraham, then David, and was finally delivered through Mary. It is interesting to note that the Old Covenant was never intended to save, but to show our need of salvation. Romans 3:20 says, “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” It is also interesting to note that Jesus spent three years reversing the physical consequences of sin in people. There are only two people mentioned in the Gospels whose sins were forgiven: the paralytic who was let down through the roof (Matthew 9:1-8), and the woman at Simon the Pharisee’s home (Luke 7:36-50). There is one man who Jesus warned to stop sinning after he was healed, and that was the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-15). Jesus’ miracles pointed to His Godhood and fulfilled the prophecies about the Messiah. He, indeed, was who He said He was.
It wasn’t until Jesus fulfilled God’s plan that was first stated in Genesis 3:15, elaborated upon in Isaiah 53, and then fulfilled on the cross that the mystery of the Gospel came to light. Part of this mystery is about God living in us. Paul sums it all up for us in Romans 5:1-5, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God…because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” It’s as if the pillar of fire that led the Israelites in the desert exploded at Pentecost and came to rest on each and every believer! He, the Holy Spirit, now leads us from the inside. We have been reborn, remade, refitted for the holiness, which is the Spirit of Christ in us.
Just as Christ was born into this world, so we are born into Christ and He in us. Christmas is truly a wondrous time of year; most people just don’t know why. Maybe we can help them. As we share the Christmas story about the birth of Christ, let’s include the event of our own birth into God through Christ and how Christ has been sent to live in us.
The Incarnation in us is the PURPOSE of Christmas.