The Greatest of All Miracles: The Incarnation (part 1)
From the devotional Walking with Jesus by Dave Glock:
And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. . . . Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. (Luke 2:1, 4-5)
God becoming man is the greatest of all miracles! Paul calls it a great mystery in introducing an early hymn of the church.
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh,Justified in the Spirit,Seen by angels,Preached among the Gentiles,Believed on in the world,Received up in glory. (1 Timothy 3:16)
God manifested in the flesh! God with us—Emmanuel. Unto us a Son is given, a child is born. In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. My Lord and my God! Let all the angels of God worship Him. The Word was with God, the Word was God! God and man in one Person. We can define it, we can describe it, we can defend it—this mysterious theology of the God-Man. But we cannot understand it. It calls us to worship.
Once man, it was fitting for Him to suffer, to be tempted, to be rejected, to die. This is the plight of the human condition. If He was going to represent us as our Great High Priest, He must experience humanity—it is a qualification for priesthood; it is becoming, suitable; it is to be expected in being human. But it was not expected that God should become man. That’s not fitting! That’s not usual. It was totally and uniquely unusual. It was a miracle—the greatest of all miracles, giving birth to all the rest of the miracles in which God intervenes in the affairs of men. Let us draw near in awe as that miracle takes place—the birth of Jesus.
Mary and Joseph had already endured heart-breaking emotional stress. Remember Mary’s return from visiting Elizabeth four months into her pregnancy. The first steps of divorce were followed by the relief of angelic revelation and subsequent reconciliation of the couple. Now, five months later, by edict of government, the soon-to-be mother struggles along with Joseph in their journey to register at home, at Bethlehem.
Can it get more difficult? Yes! The time for the greatest of miracles has come! Mary is about to give birth. But where? There is no room in the inn, and there’s only one inn as Bethlehem is a small town. God, who moved the empires for this moment of history, did not make provision for an elaborate birthing suite. Rather, a barn, a manger, and animals. Deity arrives in a strange place. And no help! It is Mary who gives birth, it is Mary who wraps Him is swaddling clothes, and it is Mary who lays Him in the manger.
What a lowly beginning for the Christ Child. He did not consider the prerogatives of deity a thing to be clutched to Himself, but emptied Himself by being born in a barn and laid on hay in a feeding trough. His emptying will entail far more.
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)
Paul commands each one of us to have this same attitude as we pattern our lives after the Servant Savior. There is no room for power, pride, or ego as we follow Christ! As He emptied Himself of the real prerogatives of deity that He possessed, we must empty ourselves of the supposed rights and prerogatives of our humanity in following Him.
Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. . . Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.’” (Hebrews 10:5, 7)
Servants have very few rights!