The Greatest of All Miracles: The Incarnation (part 2)
From the devotional Walking with Jesus by Dave Glock:
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. . . . And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. (Luke 2:8-9, 16)
Perhaps they were the lowest of the shepherds doing night duty watching the sheep. Perhaps they were the owner shepherds guarding the sheep at lambing time. Sheep were necessary for food, for clothing, and for religious ceremony in Israel. Being a shepherd was an honorable profession. It is fitting that shepherds should hear the angelic annunciation. After all, the Lamb of God is about to arrive on the scene, the Good Shepherd who will give His life for the sheep is about to take His first breath of humanity. Thirty-three years later He will breathe His last. The shepherds were faithfully executing the routine of their livelihood, but that routine was soon to be interrupted by an angel, by the manifestation of the glory of God, and by a multitude of angels.
The darkness of night is overwhelmed by the brightness of the glory of God and the appearance of an unnamed angel. Gabriel had been the select angel to Zacharias and to Mary, perhaps here as well to the shepherds. The message of the angel is important, as is his confirming prophecy. Introduced by the common “Do not be afraid” is the glorious message of salvation through the coming Messiah.
“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)
As in the previous angelic communications the connection with the nation of Israel is stressed. Gabriel had already said:
- John will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord.
- John will prepare Israel for the coming of the Lord.
- Jesus will receive the throne of His father David.
- Jesus will reign over the house of Jacob.
- There will be no end to the kingdom.
- His people will be saved from their sins.
Here, the location of the birth is once again identified as “the city of David.” The Davidic Covenant of 2 Samuel 7 is never very far from the life of Christ. This Son of David, unlike those of the connecting lineage, will be the Savior and the Messiah, and very God! If David calls Jesus “Lord,” how is He his Son? (Matthew 22:45). The answer? The greatest miracle of all, the Incarnation.
The angel becomes prophetic with a promised sign to confirm the message just delivered. The sign? “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). The sign? A Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger. Whenever did anyone see an event like this? God, in a manger!
The message is confirmed by the sudden appearance of a multitude of angels praising God and speaking of the glory of God and the subsequent peace on earth with the coming of the Messiah-King. Then the angels disappear, darkness returns, and the shepherds rush to see the predicted sign fulfilled. Just as the angel said, they find Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
The Babe! Sweet, little Jesus boy; they made Him be born in a manger. We do well to bring theology to the manger scene. Contemplate as we gaze on a baby boy in a manger.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. . . . He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. . . . 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. (John 1:1-3, 10, 14)
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. . . . For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. (Colossians 1:15-17; 2:9)
God . . . has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. . . . But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: “Let all the angels of God worship Him.” (Hebrews 1:2-3, 6)
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. . . . I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen.” (Revelation 1:8, 11, 17-18)
The person of the incarnate Christ possesses undiminished deity and perfect humanity in one Person forever. We neither divide the Person nor confuse the natures. There is a mysterious communion of attributes working in harmony without conflict: omnipotence and weariness; omnipresence and bodily limitations; omniscience and growing in knowledge; eternality and a birthday; life and death, existing at once in Jesus Christ.
Mary struggled to put all these things together. We ponder as well, and with the shepherds praise and glorify God.