Introduction: In terms of appreciating the birth of Christ, we must appreciate the work of the Trinity at Christmas. To be sure, we focus on the beautiful Babe born in the manger, who was “Christ the Lord,” and we sing with the angels words to this effect:
|Brightest and best of the sons of the morning,
Dawn on our darkness and lend us Thine aid;
Star of the East, the horizon adorning,
Guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.
|Cold on His cradle the dewdrops are shining;
Low lies His head with the beasts of the stall;
Angels adore Him in slumber reclining,
Maker and Monarch and Savior of all!
“Maker and Monarch and Savior of all” indeed! But let us not forget that the birth of Christ also tells us of the whole Godhead present with men through the Incarnation. This is because our plight in this evil world is so dire that we need the power of the full Triune family come down to earth to save us. Let us thank God in this week’s notes that this is exactly what we get in the birth of the One called “Immanuel,” that is, “God with us”!
Monday: read Hebrews 10:5-10 and Luke 2:12. This passage in Hebrews should be first on everyone’s “Christmas list” when it comes to appreciating the work of the Trinity in the birth of Christ. The words quoted are from Psalm 40 and speak about “a body being prepared” for Christ upon His “coming into the world” (Heb. 10:5). Christ is speaking to God the Father and celebrating the body which His Father has prepared for Him. As Psalm 40:5 puts it, “Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done”…, and what more wonderful than the work of preparing a human nature for His Son? No wonder the angelic annunciation to the shepherds magnified this body, wrapped in swaddling clothes, as “the sign” which proved that all the Christmas story was indeed “good news of great joy” (Luke 2:10,12)!
Meditate and Pray: We should never tire of the words of Charles Wesley which seek in vain to plumb the depths of the Father’s skill in creating a body for His Son:
|Let earth and Heaven combine,
Angels and men agree,
To praise in songs divine
The incarnate Deity,
Our God contracted to a span,
Incomprehensibly made Man.
|See in that Infant’s face
The depths of deity,
And labor while ye gaze
To sound the mystery
In vain; ye angels gaze no more,
But fall, and silently adore.
Tuesday: read Hebrews 10:7-10. Christ’s words announcing His coming to earth focus us upon God the Father as the driving force behind the incarnation. It is in order to “do the Father’s will” (Heb. 10:7) that Christ willingly submits Himself to the humiliation of taking on our nature and becoming man. Moreover, by that same Divine will Christians have been “made holy” (Heb. 10:10) through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ. What, then, is the result, once God the Father’s will is satisfied by the Son’s suffering in our place? It is a never-to-be-revoked salvation, based upon a “once and for all” (Heb. 10:10) offering up of Christ’s body! What a foundation for our faith! The will of The Just and Holy God has been once-and-for-all satisfied! Christ has met every human and divine obligation!
Meditate and Pray: Let us thank God for the security of our position, by virtue of the whole of Christ’s obedient life, from the womb of Mary, to the tomb and resurrection! As John Newton put it (hymn # 172 in our Trinity Hymnal):
|Let us love and sing and wonder,
Let us praise the Savior’s Name!
He has hushed the law’s loud thunder,
He has quenched Mount Sinai’s flame.
He has washed us with His blood,
He has brought us nigh to God.
|Let us wonder; grace and justice
Join and point to mercy’s store;
When through grace in Christ our trust is,
Justice smiles and asks no more:
He Who washed us with His blood
Has secured our way to God.
Wednesday: read Hebrews 10:11-18 and Luke 1:76-79. God the Father furnishes a human body for His Son to carry out the work of our salvation. It was the Father’s will, which put into action the birth of Christ in the manger. But there’s more. What was it that moved the Father to save men through the incarnation of His Son? The answer is found in the merciful goal of Hebrews 10:17: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” It was the tender mercy of forgiving grace which was the motive of God the Father in sending His Son to earth. Zechariah rejoices in such tender mercy as the foundation of his son John the Baptist’s work. And what was John’s gift to those who heard him? It was “to give knowledge of …forgiveness of sins because of the tender mercy of our God…” (Luke 1:77-78). Thus the story of Christ’s birth puts at center stage the Father’s character, celebrating Him as full of tender “bowels of compassion” and willing to “abundantly pardon” those who come to Him through Jesus Christ.
Meditate and Pray: Thank God that it is always the wisest course to sue for pardon at the foot of God’s throne. Do not go to men, hoping that they will pardon your iniquities! Do not assume that friends or even relations will always bear with your failings! Especially do not make the tragic mistake of thinking that fellow sinners can best understand or sympathize with your failings! Go to God who has reservoirs of mercy far beyond men! As hymn # 615 puts it:
Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish,
Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel.
Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;
Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.
Joy of the desolate, light of the straying,
Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure!
Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying,
“Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot cure.”
Here see the bread of life, see waters flowing
Forth from the throne of God, pure from above.
Come to the feast of love; come, ever knowing
Earth has no sorrow but heaven can remove.
Thurs/Fri: read John 1:1-4, 14 and Galatians 4:4-7. The message of the whole Old Testament is that we can trust in God because He is “the Creator of the ends of the earth who does not grow tired or weary” (Isaiah 40:28)! As Sinclair Ferguson puts it in his book, A Heart for God:
The knowledge of God the Creator is the answer to our doubts and complaints… He has made everything, sustains everything, watches over everything. He does not diminish in energy as we do. He is the Creator! He will give us strength and power.
But in the New Testament, it is Jesus Christ to whom is granted the power to create and to rule over a new creation, into which we can be saved through His death for our sins! As the Eternal Word of God, the Son was there at the beginning with His Father to give form and order to the first creation. In fact, John insists that without the Son of God “nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3). But now at Christmas-time, that all-powerful, creative word which made the world has become the all-powerful Living Word come down to be born in our flesh (John 1:14). Just as God created the whole universe with His mere word out of nothing, so the Son of God creates a new world in the dark emptiness of this sinful globe, promising His people nothing less than that they will now share with Him in His new humanity, adopted into a new family, the first member of which was born in the manger at Bethlehem!
Meditate and Pray: Let us thank God the Father for the two-fold sending which He accomplished at Christmas-time: not only His Son, “born of a woman” (Gal. 4:4), but His Spirit into our hearts, by whom we “call upon God” as our Father. When we are tempted to be discouraged at the weakness of our Christian lives; when we are dismayed at our lack of fruitfulness, may the Lord lift our eyes to the fruitful purposes which the Son of God has planned for us. “It is the Spirit of God’s Son” who now lives in us, as the guarantee that after much patient, cultivating work in our lives, He will produce in us the lasting fruits of the New Creation. As Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last” (John 15:16).