The Miracle of the Ages
Text: Luke 1; John 1
Proposition: The miracle of all ages was the incarnation of God, for from this comes all the possibility of redemption. Discovering this miracle leads the discovery of eternal life.
Introduction: The manger scene depicts the humble circumstances in the birth of Jesus. Upon this birth every major doctrine in the Christian faith hangs. Without the intent and existence of the incarnation there is no justification, redemption, salvation, adoption, sanctification, nor even election. In light of this, how strange it is for us that prophecy has been so silent about the incarnation. There is the veiled reference in Genesis 3:15 of how the seed of the woman would crush the head of Satan. There is the difficult reference in Isaiah 7 of a virgin giving birth to a son, and the son’s name to be called Immanuel. But even here there was no direct revealing of the idea of God taking on humanity. Then we look at the actual records of the Gospels, the accounts of the birth of Christ, and even here we see a great mystery. There seems to be a great silence in all the gospel writers except Luke. Mark and John don’t record a single historic event regarding the details of His birth. The greatest miracle of all ages, the incarnation of God, seems to be like the writer of the carol suggests, “Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see”. Let’s take a closer look at the wonder of the incarnation through words that don’t refer to mangers, shepherds or heralding angels. Turn with me to John 1:1- 4.
I. The Eternity of Christ Enters Into Humanity.
“In the beginning was the Word…”, the term ‘Word’ refers to Jesus, but why does John use this term? Is it that a spoken word gives expression to inner thought and then it reveals this thought to others? Jesus, The Word, gave expression to the inner thoughts of the Father and then revealed those thoughts to mankind. There’s a passage in Proverbs 8:27-30 that personifies wisdom as a companion of Jesus but it can also be a portrayal of the close relationship between the Son and the Father. “When He prepared the heavens, I was there: when He set a compass upon the face of the depth, when He established the clouds above: when He strengthened the fountains of the deep: When He gave to the sea His decree that the waters should not pass His commandment: when He appointed the foundations of the earth: Then I was by Him, as One brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him”. It was this eternity of the Word that agreed with the Father’s will and in the movement of the Holy Spirit upon Mary, entered into humanity and was for the first time in eternity was named… Jesus.
II. The Person of Jesus Is Embodied in Humanity.
“In the beginning was the Word… and the Word was with God…”. What does it mean, “the Word was with God”? I like how the American Standard Revised version translates this: “and the Word was face to face with God”. This speaks of the closest possible fellowship that God could ever have with another. The person of Jesus is distinguished from the person of the Father in this verse. It is this person of Christ, pre-existent before creation, Who had a depth of relationship with the Father that exceeds our understanding. Do you remember the words of Jesus in His priestly prayer of John 17? “And now glorify Thou Me together with Thyself Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was”…and “…for Thou didst love Me before the foundation of the world”. The Word was with the Father in a depth of relationship that was so close they functioned as One God. And yet, in the miracle of the ages, the Word added to this proximity of fellowship by being embodied in humanity.
III. The Deity of Jesus Entered Into the Limits of Humanity.
“And the Word was God.” Literally it reads, “And God was the Word”, emphasizing the deity of the Word, Jesus Christ. Though both were spirit, Jesus existed separate from the Father, had close communion with Him and yet was fully God Himself. This truth is foundational for what is about to be said. Consider verses 3,4. Because Jesus is fully God He has the capability of creation, all things are created by Him and thus are owned by Him. Note that this also infers that Jesus is not created, but exists apart from creation. It is the deity of Jesus, Who He is as God, that enables Him to give life. Previously Jesus painted the truth of Who God is through the panorama of creation and with the broad brushes of prophetic revelation. By the incarnation He would do this same role except now He was the paint as well as the Painter as He entered visibly into the limits of humanity.
IV. The Sonship of Jesus Brings Us Sonship With God.
In John 1:14 it says, “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us”, All the images of the baby in the manger are sourced in this statement. But as great a mystery as God taking on humanity is, the purpose of it is even greater. There’s an intriguing title that was given to describe Jesus, it’s become so well known we hardly think of it. The title is ‘The Son of God’, but what does it mean, what does it refer to? It can’t refer to an act of creation or that the Father created the Son, because Jesus is God and is not created. It can’t refer to the fact of the incarnation, because Jesus was the Son of God before the incarnation. Jesus is the Son of God in the way that He shares in the essence of the Father and reflects that essence, things such as righteousness, love, wisdom, full of grace and truth. He is the Son that looks just like His Father. Add to this John 1:12, “ But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” Jesus, Who is the Son of God, has brought that embracing son-ship to us through the incarnation.
The Athanasian Creed written in about 400AD concludes this: “Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man…perfect God, and perfect man…who although he be God and man ; yet he is not two, but one Christ; one not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh; but by the taking of mankind into God.” This is the Miracle of the ages, the incarnation of Jesus the Christ by which God now embraces mankind as never before.