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"The Wonder of Christmas" (posted December 6, 2014)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory.
- John 1:1, 14
What can exceed the wonder of the incarnation? The One who in His own essential Being dwells "in unapproachable light" becomes manifest in flesh, seen of angels (1 Timothy 6:16; 3:16). The adoring hearts of His disciples could say, "We have heard, we have seen with our eyes, we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life" (1 John 1:1).
Moreover, the way of the incarnation is as marvelous as the fact is wonderful. For we read, "You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger" (Luke 2:12)-- the divine answer to the cry that went up from a human heart, "Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! ...to make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence!" (Isaiah 64:1-2).
God has indeed come down-- though not in such fashion as the prophet desired, like melting fire and boiling water to make the nations tremble at His presence. He has answered the cry, but in His own way and according to His own heart: a way, indeed, that stills our fears and captivates the heart that is touched by grace and love divine. Truly it has been said, "Nothing in human life makes us so much at home as an infant in its cradle."
God has drawn near to us at the lowest point of our weakness and in the greatest depth of our poverty. He ignored the imperial city of Rome, He passed by the royal city of Jerusalem, and He chose Bethlehem, though it was little among the thousands of Judah; and even so He passed by such poor fare as the village inn could supply and chose the shelter of the oxen's stall. There in Bethlehem's stable the One "whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting" (Micah 5:2) was brought forth and cradled in a manger. The womb of the virgin, the manger of Bethlehem, the home of Nazareth mark the stages in this wondrous story: God manifest in the flesh.