Every Christmas, choirs of angels call us to kneel once again in worship at the manger in Bethlehem and behold His glory. It is a journey we should never grow tired of making. For the birth of Jesus is a story so simple children love to hear it, yet one so profound wise men cannot fathom it. Such is the miracle of the incarnation of Christ.
In foretelling this glorious event 700 years in advance, Isaiah proclaims both Jesus’ divinity and humanity: “For unto us a child is born and unto us a son is given.” Notice the child is “born” at a moment in time (His humanity), but the son is “given” because He has existed for all eternity with the Father (His divinity). Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
And Dr. Luke gives us a glimpse of this wonder of all wonders as Gabriel addresses Mary’s bewilderment (“How can this be since I am a virgin?”), “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God” (Luke 1:35 ESV). Incredible.
The Spirit will “overshadow” her (this is the same Greek word used as the bright cloud covers those with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration). Yet this metaphor is deeply rooted in the Old Testament as we are often invited to find rest, to abide, to dwell, and to take refuge in the “shadow of the Almighty” as we are hidden beneath His “wings” (Psa 91:1-6).
It is the same picture found in creation as we witness the Spirit of God “hovering” over the darkness of the earth (Gen 1:2). That Hebrew word is also used to describe an eagle “hovering” over the young in her nest (Deut 32:11). How beautiful is the work of the Trinity in creation as God speaks everything into existence through His Word (the Son – John 1:1-3) in divine partnership with the gentle moving of the Holy Spirit!
Now this God of all creation, sends His Spirit to move over the womb of a virgin to divinely implant the holy Child – His only begotten Son – Immanuel – Jesus. Fully God. Fully man. Great is the mystery of godliness! And to encourage Mary (as well as us) before he departs, Gabriel reminds her that “nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1: 37).
This Christmas, as we celebrate the Christ-child, may our worship and wonder at the manager compel us to arise and abide in the shadow of the Almighty. And if we listen carefully as we go, we will hear a voice reassuring us that with God, all things are possible. Cling to Jesus – our Blessed Hope – and fear not.
By common confession,
great is the mystery of godliness:
He who was revealed in the flesh,
was vindicated in the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.
1 Timothy 3:16 NASB
© 2016 Tim McKenzie
On Every Word Ministries