Why lies He in such mean estate, where ox and ass are feeding?

Good Christians: fear–for sinners here the silent Word is pleading.

(from What Child is This? by William C. Dix)

John tells us that Jesus is the Word, the agent of God’s creation, and “all things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3, ESV). This is a mystery in itself, that God could create all things simply by speaking, “let there be . . . and there was.” But the mystery is deepened when John informs us that God the Father and God the Son are one: “the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (v. 1).

Yet even deeper still is the mystery of God becoming a man, the Eternal Creator of the universe taking on human flesh and being born in Bethlehem. How can the Creator become a creature? How can the Eternal God, who exists outside of time and space, become a human being who is subject to the physical laws of the universe? (It might be more accurate to say that Jesus chose to subject Himself to the laws of the universe, as He demonstrated that He could transcend them if He chose, such as by walking on water.)

How could Omnipotent God be born in the form of a helpless baby? Who could have envisioned the Almighty Creator willingly placing Himself at the mercy of sinful humans, on whom He would depend for food and diaper changes? Yet these are just a few of the unfathomable paradoxes of Jesus’ birth some two thousand years ago.

The Word of God who spoke all things into existence became a baby who had to learn how to speak! The Creator of cattle suddenly appearing in a cow shed in the midst of steaming dung, lying naked in a hay trough! He had existed for all eternity in heavenly glory “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8, ESV). The One who created the entire universe came to earth only to find that there was no room for Him in the inn.

We read that Mary and Joseph clothed the baby in swaddling cloths (Luke 2:7), strips of old blankets that were wrapped tightly around the baby to restrict His movement. Imagine the Omnipresent God of the universe being bound and restricted by tattered rags!

Yet the greatest paradox of all is that The Life came to earth expressly to die. How can The Life die? How could the One who invented life, who is the Source of all life, voluntarily submit Himself to the power of death? And if The Life did die, who or what could ever bring Him back? Yet He who is Life is supreme over the power of death itself, and nothing–no power in hell or on earth–could keep Him in the grave.

May the Lord of Life bless you and your family this Christmas season, and may you take time to praise Him for all that He has done.


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