(Friends, this is Part 6 of a seven part series devoted to the Lord's entrance into the world. Today's message involves God's Divine working, revealed by human means. Thanks, Glen)
My wife Frances, a Labor & Delivery nurse for more than three decades, recently reflected on the helplessness of newborn babies. I paraphrase: "They cannot feed themselves, nor provide for themselves in any manner. They cannot clean or change themselves. They cannot move from place to place. They cannot protect themselves. They cannot speak. They cannot do anything for themselves!"
"Ye shall find the babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger" (Luke 2:12).
Frances proceeded to apply this to the Lord Jesus Christ, the all-powerful Creator and Sustainer of the universe, who for our sakes took upon Himself the neonatal inability to do anything for Himself. Indeed, when Herod sought to kill the Lord Jesus, God's angel told Joseph and Mary to flee into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-14). Why didn't the angel simply destroy Herod and his forces, thus eliminating the threat and executing proper judgement against the wicked? This was not God's will, of course, because He purposed the Lord Jesus to live a human life that identifies with our earthly experience. "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same" (Hebrews 2:14). Rather than angelic intervention, our Savior required His earthly father and mother to protect Him by the most natural means available. They escaped. So helpless was He as a babe, He would have been hopelessly in peril apart from such human response to danger.
This sublime enigma of God's working reveals His principle of accomplishing Divine purposes by human means. Our redemption required "the power of God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16). However, it also required the mystery of "God… manifest in the flesh" (I Timothy 3:16). Our Heavenly Father could not forgive or accept us merely by fiat. His holy character and nature would not have allowed a mere pronouncement of pardon. Someone had to suffer and die in an atoning sacrifice for us, someone who bore our humanity to the degree that He shared the substance of our being and the circumstance of our experience. As the saying goes, when God created, He spoke. When He redeemed, He bled. The Babe became a boy, who became a man, who became "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). He now sits at the right hand of God as our risen Savior and Lord, the God who became man, and the man who remains God. The Lord Jesus fulfilled His Father's Divine purposes by human means, as enabled by Divine power. "For though He was crucified through weakness, yet He liveth by the power of God" (II Corinthians 13:4).
We must expect the principle to manifest its glory in our lives. God does many things that look very human. He often answers prayers in ways so seemingly ordinary that we will not recognize them if we fail to remember the Incarnation and its lesson to us. Divine glory, revealed by human means. This is the Lord Jesus Christ. This was God's redeeming process of grace and truth. This continues to serve as a primary aspect of how He presently works, and how He will eternally enact His eternal purpose through the Christ who forever dwells as the perfect unity of God and man. The helpless Babe in the manger, so very human in His being and substance, was no less Divine than He was and is as the almighty Son of God who sits upon His heavenly throne. Remembering this principle of the Heavenly revealed in the earthly opens our eyes to see our Lord and His powerful working in things that seem so very helpless, so very human.
"And when He was come into His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in Him."
Weekly Memory Verse
And the angel said unto them, Fear not, for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.