We often think that the Christmas story begins with the birth of Christ, with Jesus in the manger, but that is actually just the middle of the story of our redemption.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
—Genesis 1:1–3, NIV
In this passage three “things” existed before anything was created: the Speaker, the Spoken, and the Spirit. Since they were not created, they are God. Since there is only one God, there is a threeness in the oneness of God.
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 came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us…
—John 1:1-5, 14a, NRSV
In the New Testament, John agrees that that very Spoken Word, through whom all things were created, was with God and was God, and became flesh and lived among us as a man.
Jesus Has a long Memory
Jesus said, “Moses let you divorce your wives, but it was not that way in the beginning.” The most important part of this is not what Jesus remembered, but that he can remember what it was like before the Torah. In the Transfiguration, Peter, James, and John saw through, what we would call in science fiction, a portal into timeless eternity, and saw Jesus giving the Law to Moses and the prophecies to Elijah. He is the Alpha and the Omega of the universe, its cause and culmination. He will transform us from the “stuff” of this earth to the “stuff” of God, so that we can live in the fellowship of the Trinity forever.
The Incarnation and Our Creation
It is obvious that if God knows all knowable things, He cannot be surprised. He was not surprised that we sinned, and He did not accidentally create a boobytrap in the Law that obligated Him to become flesh, live among us, and die on the cross for us. All that was on the “drawing board” before the creation. In other words, when it says that He created us in His own image, it is not a metaphor; He created us in the image He had planned for Himself.
The Problems of Life
When you see misfortunes in your past, obstacles in your future, and adversity on either side, you often forget to look up. You forget that there is no lid on your world, in the nighttime sky there is nothing between you and the stars that are thousands of light years above. If you look up from life, you see Jesus, there is no ceiling, there is nothing between you and Him.
Yet you suffer a tragedy so huge, it just cannot be. You wish you could fly through the darkness of intergalactic space until you find a door with a sign that says, “Administrative Offices of the Universe.”
You go through that door and you tell the person sitting at the desk, “There is something horribly wrong! It cannot be! I demand to speak with someone in charge!”
The receptionist says, “Well, the angels are all in the field, and the archangels are all out running errands,” so he grabs your hand and says, “Come with me!” And he leads you past the principalities, powers, virtues, and dominions, who are all very busy, but you can’t tell what they are doing. Then you pass through a door that says GASP “Throne Room”! And you pass by the thrones and the cherubim and even the mighty seraphim who contemplate the very face of God. Yet he leads you even further, past the twenty-four elders, who glance at you as you pass. And you stand before the emerald throne of God, sparkling with rainbows and thunderbolts. It is so bright that you cover your eyes with your hands, and say, “Oh, no! I don’t belong here! I’m way in over my head! It really isn’t all that important!”
But against the light you see a shadow. It comes closer, and you can begin to make out the silhouette; and finally you see Him, and even though you’ve never seen Him before, you recognize Him, He is Jesus, the Incarnate God! And He says:
I love you with all of my heart and mind and Spirit,
with everything that I am and have and ever shall be.
I love you in all the struggles of your soul,
in all troubles of your heart,
and in all the aspirations of your mind.
I loved you before you were formed in your mother’s womb,
and I will love you when your voice is stilled in death.
And when all the catastrophes of this universe
are but a fond remembrance in the furthest corner of my mind,
and all the stars are dust—
I will remember you,
I will love you,
and I will live with you,
and you with me forever more.
God stoops lower and lifts you higher than you could ever imagine, and in His light and love, all the struggles and tears of your life will fade to nothing.
And this is the story of the mystery of the universe. It begins before the dawn of the very first morning, and ends after the sunset on the very last day. It is revealed in Jesus Christ, and the manger is in the middle.