All around us people define this time of year as the “season of miracles.” Many cards declare, “Celebrate the miracle, that is Christmas.” The word, “miracle” is bandied about, and yet I realized, as I was laying out my Nativity with the little baby Jesus, that I have not always appreciated the magnitude of the miracle. The birth of Jesus was a miracle in the truest sense of the word. It was a birth like no other. On that day, God became Man. Still God, but yet Man. C.S. Lewis said it this way, “He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity; down further still, if embryologists are right, to recapitulate in the womb ancient and pre-human phases of life; down to the very roots and seabed of the Nature He has created.”
The miracle began when Jesus left the glories and riches of Heaven, to come to us in this world. Certainly it is a beautiful world, but given the abundance of man’s sin playing out, it is nothing like Heaven. (We can see the muck and mire of this world by merely turning on the evening news.) And yet, He came. Jesus’ name, “Immanuel,” referred to in the Gospel of Matthew (Mt. 1:23) means “God with us.” The little baby lying on the hay was not just a future great man, but was and is “God with us.” The shepherds in the field rejoiced, the wise men fell down in wonder, because they were in the presence of God. It was a miracle unlike any other.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; and all things were made through Him and apart from Him nothing was made which was made…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” John 1:1-3,13
But believing Jesus’ birth is a miracle forces me to ask the question, why. Why would He leave Heaven and descend to this earth? This miracle was not just meant to be an interesting event to mark a time and place in history. It was for all history, all mankind, and for me personally. In fact, this miracle has incredible ramifications for all of us who believe in it. Believing this miracle has changed my life in countless ways, and it is the reason I celebrate His birth.
First, and most obviously, the miracle of “God with us,” means that when I read His teachings, I am listening to the words of God Himself. God has given me the ability to know Him, and to follow Him in a personal way. This doesn’t mean that I have to strive to reach Him, or hope that I can do enough good deeds to please an impersonal God. He descended to be with me.
Jesus was with us as God, and is still with us. He left His teachings in the Holy Scriptures, and He left His Spirit, so that through them I can continue to learn from, to follow, and to know God. God is still with us.
But believing that Jesus’ birth is a miracle does more than give His teachings authority. This revelation does even more than show me the character of God. The birth of Jesus is deserving of recognition because belief in this miracle means I must face the decision of believing another great miracle. If He could descend, could He also ascend? It is then not terribly difficult to make the leap of faith of believing His resurrection. He has enabled us to return with Him to the glories of Heaven. He came down, to bring us up. He came down to bring me to Him. His birth was the beginning of that fulfillment. Jesus was with us, is still with us, and will be forever with us.
The little baby lying in the hay would grow up, and teach great and wonderful things, but He did much more than that. He gives life in the fullest sense, because He is God with us. So this season I choose to celebrate the Miracle with the angels, the shepherds and the wise men.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”