In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (Jn 1:1-5)
God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made… yet somehow in a small town in Israel a couple thousand years ago, He was formed and fashioned in young Mary’s womb. The Word-Made-Flesh actually grew in the womb of a woman – a woman who Jesus Himself had knit together in her own mother’s womb (Ps 139:13) less than two decades before.
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior's birth
On a truly holy night, beneath the brightly shining stars of His own design, the Infant God was born to a teenage mother and a young carpenter in a smelly stable with only a few shepherds to give Him the laud that He had known for all eternity (Isa 6:1-4). The fullness of God, the very radiance of Yahweh’s glory (Heb 1:3), laid in a teenage mother’s arms peering through newborn eyes of flesh, still barely able to adjust to the light in order to see the adoring face above Him clearly. Just nine months earlier, Jesus was clothed in the very thing (Ps 104:2) that now made it difficult for His eyes to see; yet here in the hidden manger of Bethlehem, the Infant God traded in garments of light, splendor, and majesty (Ps 93:1; Ps 104:1-2) for swaddling cloths (Lk 2:7) and skin molded from the dust of the earth (Gen 2:7). “These rags keeping Him warm were once the robes of eternity” (Max Lucado).
The image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation (Col 1:15), ate breakfast at the table of an unknown and unremarkable family in Nazareth. He went to bed each night and slept (somehow without ever sleeping or slumbering – Ps 121:4) under a roof that lay under the moon and stars that He set in place (Gen 1:14-18). And He grew up with parents and teachers telling and re-telling Him the story of how He created the world in which He now lived, and in unfathomable meekness and absurdity, the very same world of which He was now dependent upon. God sat at Mary’s table and ate her soup. Joseph and Mary taught the toddler-God-in-the-flesh how to walk and how to talk. Have you ever wondered what His first word was? Was it light (Gen 1:3)? If it was, what do you think happened when the literal “Light of the world” said it for the first time as the Infant-God?
For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together (Col 1:16-17). Yet somehow, gravity held God’s feet to the dirty streets of Galilee and perhaps even brought Him to His knees a time or two as a young boy running around with the same immature legs of little boys everywhere that get all tangled up in the heat of a race. Jesus rose with the sun of His imagination and creation, and laid down with its setting. The God of the universe was subject to every sovereign law of Creation that He Himself set in place at the foundations of the world.
Gravity and time actually made Jesus weary after a long day of playing, learning, and working in His parents’ home as the Christ-Child. The God who created the sun, moon, and stars, and set their boundary lines so that they weren’t too close to the earth to burn us all alive or too far that all life would cease to exist, even got cold when the sun set on an arid, wintery night in Israel. He was refreshed with food, wine, and fellowship with the ones He loved after a long, hard day of building things with wood. The Holy One eternally clothed in glory and light was actually caked in dirt and needed a bath after a long day of traveling from place to place… and oh, how far He would go. His travels would take Him further than anyone may ever realize, that we might finally see and recognize the Light shining in the darkness (Jn 1:4-5; Jn 8:12).
Fall on your knees; O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born
O night, O holy night, O night divine!
Have you seen Him? Have you fallen on your knees and beheld the King of kings lying in a manger? Can you testify with grateful chorus raised and sweet hymns of joy that you’ve seen Jesus with eyes of faith, you’ve listened to His words, and you know the contours of His face by heart? If your prayers have grown stale, then maybe that’s what you’re missing. If your faith is trembling, and doubts and accusations are creeping in, then maybe, just maybe, you need to put down your phone, close your laptop, and go straight to the source of “the fullness of joy.”
In the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, we are invited to stand face to Face with the light of the glory of God. And in the light of the countenance of His face, we are utterly transformed. Every last detail of His story, especially in the Gospels, is fuel for our joy, our trembling, our longing, our worship, our obedience, and all of our love and affections, if we will just turn and set our gaze to behold Him there.
I pray that the Holy Spirit would open our eyes and ears to the Word made flesh, to Jesus Christ, again this Advent and Christmas season; and may we behold with undone hearts and bended knee the beauty of the One and Only, glorious and beautiful, full of grace and truth, God Himself in the flesh, our Lord, our Bridegroom, our Judge, our Savior, and our soon and coming King of kings and Lord of lords. May it be said of us, with eyes of faith and hearts filled with the very Spirit of the living God, that we lived our lives not in the shadows of this world or in the flesh, but may we live as ones who see the Light shining in the darkness, and believe and testify to the beauty of God Incarnate… and let all within us praise His holy name. Christ is the Lord; O praise His name forever! His power and glory evermore proclaim!