The polarities of good and evil erupt in the larger metanarrative of salvation history – creation, fall, redemption, new creation. The birth of Christ, a hugely joyous occasion to celebrate, is followed by His death and suffering - the whole reason the baby is born.
Other polarities surface: the cost of leaving heaven and entering fallen earth; Mary’s delight of being chosen by God to carry His Son and a tarnished reputation; the worship of the Christ Child by the humble shepherds and wise men from the East and the wailing of the murder of all baby boys under 2 years old as ordered by the paranoid and evil king Herod.
Can you imagine how these murders grieved the heart of the Father? Yet, none of this was a surprise. All these events were carefully orchestrated and foretold in scripture (Jeremiah 31:15).
As we reflect on these realities we can let the polarities of the Advent story rob us of the ultimate reality of God’s gift and steal and overshadow what should be our truest jubilance.
The polarities of Advent, jubilation and sorrow, align our focus to the greater reality. There is the reality of the cross but a greater reality is the overwhelming and amazing fact of what His coming gave us – the result of the cross. He died in our place. He could because He was God.
“In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.”(Colossians 2:9-10) The second person of the Godhead assumed humanity and gave us a picture of Deity. We saw God. He was God.
The greater reality of the ultimate sacrifice for sin once and for all gives eternal freedom to those acknowledge their need for a Savior and accept the Gift of salvation."For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."John 3:16
This greater reality gives us greater confidence in God’s plan of history all along; greater appreciation of His birth; greater understanding of the cost; greater opportunity to use my gift giving at Christmas as worship and as a reflection of His ultimate Gift.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” II Corinthians 4:16-18.
The cost of the incarnation and the subsequent surrounding events reveal the sober choice that God chose to become man. This sober choice culminates in His ultimate sacrifice on that horrible, terrible cross.
Yet, God’s sacrifice in Christ’s death is the ultimate gift, the ultimate, triumphant reality.
Recently we were able to watch clips from a film that burned the reality of the incarnation into our minds. It made first century Mary and Joseph, Christ’s coming and the cost of it come alive. I commend it to your watching.
The Nativity Story http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meIDz98MFBs