The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: A Christmas ReflectionBy Kenneth Reid on December 20, 2017
Editor's Note: Dr. Kenneth Reid is a new addition to the GRTS faculty, and we're grateful to have him on board. He serves as Assistant Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology and recently spoke in chapel (which you can listen to here). We invited him to offer a short Christmas reflection for the blog, which as you'll see helps us cut through the busyness of the holidays and focus our hearts and minds on the One who was born for us.
Andy Williams classic song declares that Christmas is "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year." He paints a picture of attending parties and gathering with loved ones and living lives full of good cheer. For many, Christmas is a time for family gathering and celebration. For others, it will include grief and bittersweet memories of a lost loved one.
My Christmas time will resemble this picture. My wife and I will be traveling for Christmas to visit our families in Georgia. We will experience all the joys of Christmas and of gathering with our families, but we will also confront an unusual time of busyness. There will be gift shopping, as well as preparation of food for the week; but I will also be running many necessary errands for my mother throughout the week. Christmas is a time of some bittersweet memories, some great joy and much busyness.
One consistent regret that I have every year is the tendency for the busyness of the holiday season to crowd out my thoughts about our Savior. You hear the saying, "Jesus is the reason for the season." Yet, in the busyness of the season, I find myself struggling to make the reason (Jesus) central for the season. I hope that throughout this season, I can concentrate on the supreme Christmas blessing: the beauty of the incarnation of the Son of God.
Jesus' birth is an occasion to remind myself about God's redemptive plan. So, on this occasion, I would like to reflect on three of God's perfections that shine at the incarnation.
Jesus' Birth Demonstrates God's Power
First, the incarnation demonstrates God's power. Creation ex-nihilo shows us that God is distinct from this universe, but God's created order is also a sign of his great power. God did not merely refashion this creation from (pre)existing material. He brought it into being from nothing. In a similar way, God shows His power in the incarnation of His Son. When Gabriel announced to Mary that she would have a Son, she asked Him how these things could be. He reminded her the Holy Spirit would overshadow her, and His last comment is that nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37).
We can find comfort that God, who has the power to create from nothing, also has the power to bring about a miraculous birth in Mary. For us, this points to God's power to bring forth the new birth from one who is dead in transgressions and sins. The glorious reality of the incarnation shows God’s power to enact his plan of salvation and to bring salvation to his people.
Jesus' Birth is a Sign of God's Sovereignty
Second, the incarnation is a sign of God's sovereignty. The Bible repeatedly testifies that God is sovereign over all of His creation, so God's redemptive plan was not by accident. He planned this salvation before the foundation of the world, and God the Father, in His sovereignty, waited until the right time to send forth His Son. Paul reminds us that at the right time, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law so that that He might redeem those who are under the law (Galatians 4:6). God is sovereign over history, history climaxes at the cross and resurrection, and the incarnation was a necessary precondition. God controlled the timing and the reality of Jesus' birth as He enacted His plan of redemption, and this birth points to the beauty of the Father's grace and mercy, expressed in the redemption of sinful people.
Jesus' Birth Testifies to God's Faithfulness
Third, the incarnation testifies to God's faithfulness. This may raise the question, What is God faithful to? God is faithful to the promises He made to His people. When Mary reflected upon God’s work in her song, she referenced the promises He made to Abraham. Mary knew that God was fulfilling the promises to Abraham through the birth and the ministry of her unborn child (Luke 1:54-55). Zechariah understood the significance of the events around him, expressed in his prophecy, that God was accomplishing salvation through his Messiah (Luke 1:68-73).
Both the Davidic covenant and the Abrahamic covenant find their fulfillment in Christ. Jesus' kingdom has been inaugurated, and all the families on earth have been blessed because of the salvation that is in Christ. Jesus fulfills the law of the Mosaic Covenant, and His death inaugurates the New Covenant (Luke 22:20).
Jesus' birth is the event that begins the fulfillment of the Covenants, demonstrating God's faithfulness as He keeps His promises.
What can we say? Christmas should deepen our reflection about the incarnation of the Son of God. The power God shows in the incarnation should remind us of God's power to save and to transform our lives. God's sovereign provision in the incarnation should reassure us that God is sovereign in our lives and in those of our loved ones—in good and difficult times. God's faithfulness in the incarnation should encourage us that we can trust God's promises.
If we can grasp these truths in our lives, then perhaps this Christmas season will turn out to be "the most wonderful time of the year."