The Christmas Story
While Dec. 25 is not the actual day on which Christ was born, it is the date on which we celebrate His birth. And while this celebration has been associated with many traditions, some of which distract from the importance of His birth, they do not distract from the imperative of His birth. Some say that Jesus was a great man, or a great prophet. Others, believing the biblical account, affirm that He is God. This raises the question why did God need to or have to become a man? And what is necessity of the Incarnation?
There are four imperatives for why God had to become a man. Every religion has priests, who were specially prepared or worthy to represent man before God. The Jewish faith had a “high priest,” the mediator between God and man. In order for man to have a permanent and eternal relationship with God, man had to have a High Priest to intercede with God, and for a person to become a High Priest, he first had to be a priest. Only a human can be a priest. Therefore, the first imperative for the incarnation of Christ was that to become our High Priest, Jesus Christ had to become a human. Hebrews 2:14-18 states: “… He took on Him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people…” (Hebrews 2:14-18).
The second imperative for the incarnation was to reveal the nature of God to man. In part, John 1:1-18 states: “… No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”
New Testament scholar Kenneth Wuest makes the following comment about that word translated “declared”: “The word … is from a Greek word which comes into the English language in the word ‘exegesis.’ (Exegesis) is the method of Bible study in which we fully explain every detail of the text. Jesus Christ has, in His incarnation, fully explained in finite terms, so far as finite minds can grasp, all the details of the Person of God the Father. Thus Jesus Christ is the exegesis of God.”
The third imperative for the incarnation was to teach men that now it is through men God wants to reveal Himself. Jesus Christ said: “He that hath My commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me, and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father and I will love him and will manifest Myself to Him” (John 14:21). “Manifest” is the translation of “phaneo,” which means “to make real, to reveal.” Often English words, which are the transliteration of Greek words, help us understand the Word of God. For instance, there are five Greek words, which are translated by the English word “fight.” They are agonia, pugio, athelo, machio and polemio. Each is transliterated into English and give insight into the biblical text.
In the early 1950s, supermarkets sprang up all over America. More people were shopping at them, and a new wrapping material was needed.
• People wanted to see what they were getting.
• More people handled the food, and it had to be kept clean.
• The wrapping tissue had to be airtight to preserve the food longer.
To meet this need, a British scientist took cellulose and transformed it into a thin wrapping paper, which reveals what is inside the package, was airtight, and kept the food clean. He named this wrapping material “cello” for “cellulose,” and “phane” for the Greek word to “reveal and to make real.”
Jesus Christ contained “all of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). Jesus contained God in such a way as to reveal God to man. He is God’s “cellophane.” He reveals and declares Who God is and what He is like. He kept God’s nature pure and unblemished while on earth. He allowed us to “touch” Him (See I John 1:1-4) so that we might experience God first hand.
Now, God wants men and women to be His “cellophane” so that others can know Who God is and What He is like. God wants men and women to be His “cellophane” so that God’s nature can indwell man without contamination, and so that we can be “real” to others, letting them know who we really are and Who God really is. God will reveal Himself as His people reflect His character through their conduct.
The prophets foretold this.
“I will accept you [graciously] as a pleasant odor, when I lead you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries in which you have been scattered; and I will manifest My holiness among you in the sight of the nations [who will seek Me because of My power displayed in you]” (Ezekiel 20:41, Amplified Bible).
The fourth imperative for the incarnation was to reveal that it is in becoming the servant of others that man reveals the true nature of God to other men. Philippians 2:1-9 states in part: “… Christ Jesus … took upon Him the form of a Servant, and was made in the likeness of men. …” Men associate God with ruling and reigning; Jesus Christ let us know that on the earth God has come to serve and save. Men are faithful to the teachings and life of Christ as they serve their fellow men and as they tell them of the possibility of salvation through Jesus Christ.
So Merry CHRISTmas! Enjoy family, friends and faith at this special time of the year. Enjoy what your receive, but be sure to learn the joy and the gift of giving. And as you celebrate this wonderful holiday, remember to serve others and to let them know the “reason for the season!”
Dr. James L. Holly is CEO of Southeast Texas Medical Associates, LLP (SETMA) in Beaumont.