The Power of the Incarnation
The birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem’s rude manger represents the dawn of redeeming mercy, a triumph of light over darkness and of love over hate. The incarnation is the blazing center of human history.
Think about those two words for a moment. darkness and hate. They tell the story of the human race, our story before Christ and without God.
Darkness the world left to its own devices, the world under Satan’s thrall, the world without the Light of God. Without Christ, darkness is who we are, and darkness is where we are headed, the blackness of darkness forever.
Yet mankind loves the darkness, because it offers us a place to hide— to hide who you are, where you are, and what you’ve done. Hiding from God is an age-old human instinct. It began, of course, back in the garden with our first parents, and the human race has been hiding ever since. Why did Adam and Eve hide. They hid because they were ashamed of themselves, and in their shame they could not face God.
The other morning I came down stairs and Eliza my four year old was hiding under a blanket in the middle of the floor. I called her name. No response. I walked over to the Eliza-shaped bulge under the blanket in the middle of the floor. Out from under the blanket a voice protested, “I am not here. This is not where I am!” This is why we love the darkness, it is our hiding place.
John described it best, This is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, but men loved the darkness rather the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who practices evil hates the light and will not come to the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed, shown up for what they really are (John 3:18ff).
Hate: Men hate the light, John says. It stands to reason, does it not? Where there is no light, there can be no love, no real love. For the God who is light is also the God who is love. And whenever men refuse to love God, they lose the ability to love anyone else, properly. To be sure, we may like the good things a lover brings into our life, we may enjoy the benefits they give to us, but we are unable to truly love them for who they are apart from these benefits. And when they cease to please us, when they start to hurt us, when they cease to be useful, we cease to love them.
You see it never really was them that we were loving. We were really loving ourselves, the joy they brought us— while it lasted. But none of this is love. It is selfish gratitude.
What is love? Love is not sex. Love is not romance. Love is God. And if God is love, Jesus’ is love. What is Jesus like?
Jesus is patient
He is kind, and He is not jealous
Jesus does not brag. He is not arrogant, and He never acts unbecomingly.
Jesus does not seek His own. He is not easily provoked.
Jesus does not take into account a wrong suffered.
He does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.
Jesus bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Jesus never fails.
Jesus is love; we don’t do love. Selfishness, we do selfishness. Love we do not do.
The Incarnation is God’s resounding NO to the darkness and the hate of unredeemed human culture. It is God’s declaration, “I will not leave you in the darkness. I will send my light more clearly than I have ever sent it out before. You did not listen to my word, you rejected and killed all the prophets of the OT, now I will send you my Son, my only Son, whom I love. Surely you will listen to Him.” Together, He and I will love you back into the light… not by feeling a great emotion for you, but by making a great sacrifice for you. He will die in your place and for your sins.
How will you respond to this light and to this love? Our response through the ages has been telling: In Bethlehem, we said we have no room for you in our inns. In the Palace Herod said we have no room for you on the Throne. In Jerusalem, the Jews said, we have no room for you in our city. And in the courtroom, Pilate said we have no room for you on this earth. And in the public square, Secular America says, we have no room for you in our Christmas.
What about you? Do you have room for Jesus? Has the light and love of God triumphed in your heart? He came to his own, John said, and His own did not receive Him, but to those who received Him to them He gave the right to become children of God, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Merry Christmas!