Randy examines what appears to be a Christmas Contradiction as he takes time to revisit the Christmas Story. He reminds us that celebrating the mystery of the Incarnation is at the heart of Christmas.
Jesus And John The Baptist
John testifies concerning Him. He cries out, saying, This was He of whom I said, “He who comes after me has surpassed me because He was before me” (John 1:15).
John’s declaration sounds like a contradiction.
How could someone be born after John the Baptist, and yet also precede him?
But rather than being contradictory, his assertion is a paradox because on closer inspection, it is true – it does align with reality.
The Christmas Story
The Christmas story makes clear that John the Baptist was a relative of Jesus, because of their mothers’ family connection. John was slightly older; his garb, diet and ascetic lifestyle caused him to be regarded as somehow carrying the legacy of the Old Testament prophet. As you might expect in that highly religious and politically-charged culture, he received significant attention – after 400 years of silence, God was again speaking to Israel!
John’s vocation was “a voice of one calling in the desert, prepare the way of the Lord”(Luke 3:4). He perceptively understood what most others failed to grasp: this One, the long-awaited Messiah and Child of promise was Immanuel – God with Us. Jesus was a helpless baby; but He had always existed as the eternal Son in the Triune Godhead.
I’m sometimes challenged by well-meaning critics who assert that my celebration of Christmas is imbalanced. Why put so much weight on the birth of Jesus?? My answer: more than celebrating His birth, I am celebrating the mystery of the Incarnation – God has become enfleshed! And the enfleshment of Deity is the great truth and unparalleled blessing of Christmas.
John’s enigmatic statement pushes the limits of our human understanding. But this One at the center of the angel’s dramatic announcement – “Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11) – is the One without beginning, pre-existent and self-sustaining.
Takeaway: no wonder the massive angelic choir exploded in praise: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favour rests” (Luke 2:14). Is that my response?
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Images Courtesy of:
Tangled Christmas Lights – Rui Rodrigues
Silent Night – Emma Payne