Christmas is more than a story. It is a Phenomenon.
Today’s post is a little different from my usual posts. Rather than discussing a topic that most people are unfamiliar with, I’d like to look at one with which almost everyone is well acquainted – Christmas. Given that we are currently right in the middle of the season of advent, I thought it would be very fitting to write a post related to Christmas, especially if it were related to something that’s cutting edge.
We all know the story of Christmas. Every year we hear Christmas carols about Jesus’ birth, look upon nativity scenes, read passages from Matthew and Luke in our Bibles, and for some of us, we hear Linus tell us what Christmas is all about when we watch A Charlie Brown Christmas on TV. (Despite the ongoing war to prevent all this) We know about how the virgin, Mary, conceived a child by the power of the Holy Spirit, how an angel spoke to Joseph in a dream, and how wise men from the east followed a star to find Jesus as a young child some time after he was born. The whole concept behind all these things, that God became flesh, incarnated into a human being, is why Christmas is often referred to as a miracle, and rightly so. However, as I was thinking about all these things earlier this week, it really struck me that everything about Jesus’ birth is cutting edge.
Christmas is often referred to by the Church as, “Advent”. If you’ve never given thought to what this word actually means, you’re probably not alone. More often than not, when Christians hear this word they simply think of it as synonymous with the word “Christmas”, which in a sense is true and accurate. But if we really want to be precise, the word “Advent” is more accurately defined as “Arrival”, “Appearance”, or “Emergence”. In other words, during the annual season of Advent each year, we are celebrating the arrival, appearance, or emergence of Jesus Christ into the world. From this perspective, it conveys more of a sense of expectation or waiting. It’s not just that suddenly one day Jesus appeared; rather, there was an eager expectation and anticipation of His arrival.
Why was there an expectation of His arrival? Because it had been prophesied in the Scriptures, as I’m sure you probably know. That in and of itself is remarkable in that it demonstrates the veracity of God’s word as a piece of literature with divine inspiration. There are over 300 prophesies in the Bible that foretold of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection. But there is one prophecy that I’d like to focus on that helps convey just how extraordinary the birth of Christ really was. The very first prophecy about Jesus can be found at the beginning of the Book of Genesis. Right after Adam and Eve sinned against God by eating the forbidden fruit, God placed a curse on both them and the Serpent (i.e. the Devil) for what they had done. God said to the serpent:
Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”
In other words, God Himself is prophesying that one day, a decendent from Eve (notice the absence of Adam), her “Seed”, would be in conflict with the seed of the serpent. Here’s where I’d like to call you to pay close attention. When you read the word “Seed”, what is that a reference to? Sure, it’s conveying the idea of offspring in a general sense, but the seed of a woman is something very specific. In it’s most literal sense it is a reference to an ovum or egg. And what is an ovum? Think back to those days when you studied Sex Ed in your High School biology class… An ovum is a single reproductive cell from the woman containing one set of her 23 chromosomes. And what are chromosomes? They are strands of DNA that contain the genetic code for a human being. As such, when God makes the statement that the Seed of the woman would one day be in conflict with the seed of the serpent, it’s a statement that at some point in the future a genetic descendant, and specifically a Male descendent denoted by the word “He” would come. A human being would someday appear to fight against the offspring of the serpent.
Now let’s take this a step further. Why didn’t God make any reference to this descendant being an offspring of Adam? He’s specifically calling out the Seed of the woman, but why leave out Adam? I believe this is hinting at the virgin birth of Jesus. Naturally, when speaking about DNA, some part of Adam’s DNA would have been passed down through the generations to Jesus’ mother, Mary. However, as you know, Jesus was divinely conceived meaning that theoretically, He would have received one set of 23 chromosomes from Mary, but the other half of those chromosomes were divinely constructed by God and joined together to Mary’s chromosomes in her egg at the time of conception. This is of course why Jesus is referred to as the “Son of God” and not the “Son of Adam”. Jesus Himself is an entirely unique human being unlike anyone who came before Him and all who have come after Him. He is fully human and fully God, all at the same time.
Because of this, the Bible sometimes refers to Jesus as “the second Adam”. The idea here is that in all of history, only two men have been created by God Himself and can claim God as their literal Father: Adam, who was created out of the dust of the ground, and Jesus who was conceived through the powerful and miraculous work of the Holy Spirit. So, in a sense, Jesus is a “second Adam” in that He is God’s Son. Every other human being ever born has a human father. In 1 Corinthians we read:
1 Corinthians 15:47-49 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.
This is where I encourage you to pause for a moment to just consider the enormity of what Christmas is. Christmas is a reminder that the God of the universe, the creator of all things that exist, and the ultimate source of life did something so remarkable that it changed our universe forever. He became human. God the Son left His place in the Heavenly relm (i.e. another dimension/spiritual world) and was incarnated into a body of flesh. In the person of Jesus, we see God clothing Himself in a body of human flesh made from the dust of the Earth. The Apostle John puts it this way:
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
Now perhaps you’ve given thought to this before. You’ve meditated on how miraculous Jesus’ birth really was, and if so, great! However, may I invite you to consider Jesus’ birth from another perspective. When thinking about God, it is evident to us that He currently resides in a spiritual relm where we don’t presently have the ability to go in our mortal bodies. (Obviously God is everywhere, i.e. “omnipresent”, but His primary dwelling place is typically conveyed in the Scriptures as heaven, or the highest heaven”) As such, because God’s dwelling place is in a different dimension, it can be said that there is a wall, barrier, or gap that separates our natural/physical universe from the spiritual realm where God resides.
Because this invisible wall of separation exists between the physical & spiritual worlds, it naturally presents a problem for humanity when it comes to connecting with our Creator. From a natural standpoint, we cannot simply walk into God’s heavenly temple to visit Him because we are prevented by that barrier existing between our two realities. This invisible wall of separation has existed ever since the time of Adam & Eve when they sinned and God put a curse on the world. Due to sin, God separated Himself from humanity. So, the question that should come to mind is, “how can human beings connect with God when this barrier exists?”
In ancient times, the answer to this question was through a temple and high priest. The high priest acted as a spokesman on behalf of other people when he entered the innermost room of the temple known as the “Holy of Holies”. However, this process had several limitations: 1. It only applied to the people of Israel. 2. It had to be repeated every single year. 3. It did not completely solve the problem of sin and bring reconciliation between God and humanity.
And here is where we come to what I am calling the “Phenomenon of Christmas”. When Jesus was born into the world, it marked the moment when God broke through that invisible wall of separation. In Jesus, God the Son traveled from the Spiritual Realm to our physical universe. In a sense, He opened a door between our two realities. In the person of Jesus we have someone who is fully God and fully man representing both the natural and supernatural aspects of the universe in which we live.
Through Jesus’ sinless life, death, burial, and resurrection, a doorway (or portal, if you will) was permanently opened. Jesus Himself became a bridge and gateway between our world and the dwelling place of God. Thus, once and for all, the problem of this “invisible wall” / barrier was solved. Jesus Himself affirms this concept when He says:
John 10:9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
Because of Jesus entering our world at that first Christmas, an answer to the problem of our sin was given. No longer was a physical temple needed in Israel. No longer was a high priest needed to speak on behalf of the Israelits. Jesus Himself became the great High Priest once and for all for the entire human race, not just the Israelites. Jesus became a bridge between us as fallen human beings living in this fallen world that is passing away, and a Holy God dwelling in an eternal spiritual world we tend to refer to as heaven. Can you think of anything better than this?! It’s no wonder it is written about that first Christmas:
Luke 2:13-14 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
The reason why that first Christmas is such a phenomenon is because Jesus opened a doorway for us to be reconciled to God who loves us beyond anything we can comprehend. All we have to do is open the door to Jesus to receive His grace and forgiveness. Jesus says,
Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
This Christmas, I’d like to encourage you to thank God for the greatest gift you could ever be given – the gift of His Son. If you have never received this gift, I encourage you to simply reach out and take it. Because it is a gift, it’s free. God already paid for it. You don’t have to buy it, earn it, or work for it. You simply have to receive it; and when you do, that doorway between you and God will be forever opened, giving you direct access to your Creator who loves you so much He gave His Son for you. It’s best summed up as follows:
John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
Gloria! In excelsis Deo!