“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 1:14
Doesn’t it sound lovely, the word of the inspired apostle? Christ had become the reality of what the prophets had seen from afar.
The miracle of Bethlehem will remain something mysterious for all time. How many have tried to fathom it with their faculties of reason and could not – that the human form of Jesus through whom the fullness of the Godhead dwelt, He, the Creator of heaven and earth, descended into the valley of the Earth to dwell among people in human form. The mystery that God begot the Holy Spirit from the foundation of the world, that His human nature remained pure, we hear from the message that the angel brought to the Virgin Mary: “And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God’” (Luke 1:35). Yes, the Lord of creation came into this world without human intervention. A supernatural begetting it was and yet a natural birth like that of any other human being. He was to become like His human brothers in all things.
Oh, how the great, wonderful God is brought so close to us when we contemplate this miracle of Bethlehem in holy awe. It seems to me that we should be overcome by the same feelings as those shepherds who, upon hearing the angel’s message, said: “So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us’” (Luke 2:15).
How very different was the day of Bethlehem, when the glorious message of joy of God’s good pleasure was proclaimed, from the day when the angel had to stand before the gate of the Garden of Eden with a bared sword to deny humans access to the tree of life. There, humans were deprived of the divine bread. Here in Bethlehem (Bethlehem means “house of bread”), the divine bread was restored to them in the form of the divine person. Very well, therefore, we can understand the apostle’s shout of triumph when he says: “The Word became flesh…we saw His glory!”
So what does this miracle of Bethlehem mean for us? We did not have the privilege of seeing what the apostles saw. But we have experienced, through salvation, that He is full of grace and truth. So we too can say, “We saw His glory!” With his face veiled, the faithful man of God Moses once stood on the mountain when the glory of the Lord passed him by, but we may behold with unveiled face that which the ancient men of God so desired to see. Yes, truly, in Jesus Christ is reflected the glory of the invisible God. In Him are revealed all the attributes of the Godhead. Not only do we see in this miracle of Bethlehem the perfect ideal man Jesus Christ, but we exclaim in holy awe with the disciple, “My Lord and my God!” We also joyfully join in faith in the bold confession of the apostle Peter: “Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:69).
Let us now turn our attention to the two glorious words of the apostle John, which he particularly emphasizes in his scriptural word: “grace and truth.” We are told much in the Bible about how a godly life should be, but here we are given the means to realize such a life. The Lord Jesus did not come to tell us about grace; instead, He brought it to us. He is not full of the messages of grace and truth; rather, He is full of grace and truth.
Others taught about the way that leads to God, but He Himself is the way. People can become partakers of grace and live in it. He is the source from which all grace flows, and from His fullness we may take grace for grace. Grace and truth are closely connected. We can rightly say that truth confirms the grace offered. It confirms the grace of redemption, which consists of actual forgiveness of all guilt and in a real transformation of the heart. Through this grace, a person can live a complete life of victory over sin. We are not dealing here with blessings that are pleasing to the ear and stir the heart but with blessings that bring us the real favor of God. The truth that the Lord Jesus brings to us does not come from the judgment seat but from the mercy seat. It does not come to condemn and punish but to help, comfort, and save.
Full of grace! Jesus came into a world full of curses, into a world that has turned away from God and that does not desire Him but despises Him. Must we not then cry out, “And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth’” (Exodus 34:6)? What grace there is in the incarnation of the Lord Jesus! The angels in Bethlehem’s fields expressed this grace in a special way through their glorious chant. What gracious thoughts God must have towards us human beings that He appears in our human nature! Let us contemplate in holy awe the miracle of Bethlehem! Remember, He who lay there in the manger and in Mary’s bosom is called “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
We continue to see this grace revealed in abundance in the Lord’s life on earth. An apostle tells us: “He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (see Hebrews 5:8). A wonderful human brotherhood united Him to us human beings. Was He not our faithful high priest who, even encompassed in weakness, bore all our sorrows and hardships? Is there any suffering through which our Lord did not pass? What a wonderful hope comes to us through His life! Shall He, who has borne my curse, curse me? Shall He not have mercy on me, who Himself has borne my sorrows and hardships? Let us consider His dealings with people! O, what mercy flowed from Him! Indeed, the people who had a healthy spiritual sight saw His glory. Let us immerse ourselves in the miracle of Bethlehem and worship Him humbly this Christmas!
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