No One Ever Told You
David Bryant’s Advent Reflections for 2019
The next time you sing “O Come, Let Us Adore Him” this season, how would you like to be adoring Jesus with a whole new understanding of how incredibly worthy of praise he is because of the “invasion” of his incarnation?
David Bryant’s special Christmas message for 2019 will do exactly that for you. There’s a lot more to Advent than most Christians ever think about.
Unwrap even more Christmas surprises with this blog post!
The Christmas season has burst out all over the land. A cacophony of carols competes with the clamor, clutter, and confusion confronting frantic shoppers everywhere.
Sadly, the holiday—dreaming of a white Christmas with all days merry and bright—is about as far from the truth of what happened two thousand years ago as the word “inversion” is from the word “invasion.”
For most of us, Christmas encourages an “inversion.” Toward the end of December, everything sort of turns inward toward ourselves and those we care about; there’s a lot of talk about going home “if only in my dreams” (as the song goes).
But the REAL Christmas is about a movement in the opposite direction—about nothing less than an invasion. And what an invasion the Incarnation was!
Out of eternity, the living God breached time, activating a direct incursion into the human story to overtake it and make it into his story. He soundly infiltrated our frailty in order to come among us, as one of us—showing up as a genuine, living, breathing human being, breaking into time and space for our sakes and for his glory.
It all began the day Mary first learned that God was going to invade her womb (!)—when the angel told her (using very aggressive language, you’ll note):
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1, emphasis added)
From that moment forward, the invasion of the Incarnation was never understood to be a passive gift, like a sacred book placed on a coffee table. Rather, Jesus himself is the sovereign God actively inhabiting our planet by becoming one of us, permanently united to us, taking strategic action for us, to save us and liberate us.
This kind of incarnation requires nothing less than a God-orchestrated invasion. It’s like the game-changing landing of Allied troops in Normandy on D-Day during World War II. Only he did it for the “joy set before him” (Hebrews 12)—which was us.
This blog post is about SEVEN TRUTHS concerning the real meaning of Christmas that I’ll bet no one has ever told you—at least not in the ways I’m about to report.
In a sense, I’ve already started laying out these surprises before you—namely, that Christmas is a time to celebrate the most incomparable, stunning, revolutionary, wide-reaching, and thoroughly overwhelming invasion in all of history!
In other words, there’s a divinely mysterious militancy about the Advent!
OK! Besides that truth about Christmas, here are SEVEN more facts that most believers rarely think about in the hustle and bustle of the season.
In one fell swoop, this one person, all by himself,
instantly fulfilled hundreds of ancient promises,
the very night he was laid in a manger.
All the Father longed to do for us—and his whole creation—required an actual person to rise from among us who was like us, who was one of us, to stand up for us.
We needed a real person united to us, as one of us
- to culminate the promise that Abraham’s greater offspring would bring God’s blessings to all the families of the earth;
- to seal hundreds of Old Testament kingdom predictions rooted in the coming of David’s greater son, to physically reign on his throne forever;
- to bring about the reconciliation and restoration of all creation through the “Servant of the Lord,” whom Isaiah spoke about;
- to subsume in himself alone ALL of these roles and dozens more (like prophet, priest, and king).
In that sense, we might want to include “Happy Birthday to Jesus” in our selection of carols! Then, let’s add to that the “Hallelujah Chorus” in our anticipation of what Jesus’ coming as a real person secured for our redemption in God’s grand, kingdom purposes for the rest of eternity.
Jesus’ coming among us—as one of us, to serve us
and save us—was, in a very real sense,
the mightiest of all God’s miracles.
In the Incarnation, time enfolded eternity. Earth was joined to heaven. And, as a result, we were rescued from the otherwise intractable grip of sin and death and the domain of the Evil One.
Through Jesus, God’s inexplicable, unrepeatable identification with humankind encompasses every other display of God’s phenomenal power.
Think of it: In one divine moment, the Son’s “incarnation invasion” became the culmination of the old creation as well as the initiation of the final Consummation—both—on display that “holy night” to angels and shepherds (who, at that moment, of course, had no idea what had just taken place)!
From the moment he emerged from Mary’s womb,
Jesus experienced exactly
what every human being has felt—
all the highs and the lows—but especially
our brokenness and suffering due to sin and evil.
Becoming one of us, Jesus became sin for us at the same time (2 Corinthians 5:21). In a sense, he bore our sins in his own body all the way to the cross (1 Peter 2:24)—the very body that was once treasured by Joseph and Mary as a soft, warm, vulnerable, cuddly infant.
Yes, Jesus experienced every bit of sin’s ugly consequences and horrible pain—all of it for us and all mankind. He did so in his physical being, in the body formed for nine months of gestation for this very purpose—the same body presented to rural worshipers on that first Christmas Eve.
Born a real flesh-and-blood baby, Jesus was enabled to suffer the full weight of the eternal pain of our separation from God that our sin brings. Now when we turn to trust in him, we can be sure that we ourselves will never, ever have to experience that great tragedy!
It has become an indescribable, unfathomable experience that he alone can comprehend—from which we are set free!
What a great comfort this is for all the saints, as well, to know he more than understands our pain, he “became” our pain! “Oh, tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy.”
Thus, we can say the passion of Christ on the cross
for our sin and our salvation actually began when
he emptied himself—when infinity dwindled to infancy in
the moment he became one of us.
This is what we’re told in Philippians 2:
He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!
Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. (The Message, emphasis added)
The cross was, in fact, the high watermark for Jesus’ lifetime of condescension and suffering that started the hour he arrived in Mary’s arms, sent to pour himself out for others unceasingly.
His passion (as his crucifixion is often termed) was initiated the instant of his incarnation. From that second forward, he created the bridge to close the gulf between God and his creation, at great personal cost to himself. It was a mission ultimately culminated on the cross where the spanning of our eternal separation from God was fulfilled triumphantly.
Born into a trough, our Savior assumed our sinful flesh (our humanity corrupted by the tragic consequences of sin). Then he lowered himself even more as he yielded himself throughout his life to real poverty, threats, pain, hunger, mocking, grief, spitting, misery, homelessness, public humiliation, rejection, betrayal, abandonment, agony—and finally, to the cruelest death imaginable, the Roman stake.
It all began at Christmas!
The Incarnation provides irrefutable evidence
that our God is personally, immutably, and everlastingly
committed to the future reclamation of the human race—
including your future and mine.
We know this because, throughout all the ages to come, a man who took on our flesh, came under our judgment, triumphed over our death, and now facilitates Heaven’s dominion to our unceasing welfare has secured God’s blessings for us forever. He reigns on our behalf as a true “friend of sinners”—a role from which he will never resign.
Considering the extent of God’s commitment to us revealed in Christ’s incarnation, we might do well to ask: What would God not do for us now in Christ Jesus?
The Father’s ultimate dedication to our eternal good is seen in that he so loved the world he gave his beloved, precious, one and only Son for us. Since he did not withhold his best from us—the Lord Jesus—is there any good thing the Father would keep from us?
Such is the full measure of God’s inexhaustible commitment to us—the supreme “good tidings of great joy” for us to celebrate at Christmas.
Because of Christmas, Jesus right now
remains the most fully alive and totally fulfilled
human personality anywhere in the entire universe!
Have you ever thought about this? In him—“the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1)—we behold what every human should look like due to our being created with an inherent capacity to reflect and glorify the living God.
Jesus encompasses the whole range of what it means for human beings—made in God’s image from the beginning (Genesis 1)—to love God with all our affections and words and deeds. In our Savior, we see all the goodness, grace, and gifts of which every believer is capable, to the extent that we are living in the power of the Holy Spirit.
To see Jesus is to behold what it means to be truly human. How he lived is the way human life was meant to be lived. Despite his deity, Jesus is the real deal—as fully human as we are meant to be. Bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh.
With him, there is no pretense, or playacting, or shadowy sleight of hand. The Palestinian multitudes who surrounded him, listened to him, watched him, and walked with him, saw in him how God wants all of us to feel, think, act, react, triumph, serve, love, and worship. With them, we too come face to face with Jesus and see how God intends all of us who belong to him to become like him.
Maybe even more amazing—even shocking—
than the previous six insights, is this:
The incarnation of God’s Son
will forever be irrevocable and irreversible.
There’s no exit for Jesus. There’s no turning back. Ponder that.
Jesus will never cease to be one of us, for us, inseparable from us, and dwelling among us—never!
Having taken on and redeemed the totality of our humanity, Jesus left none of that humanity behind when he ascended to the heights; he took it all with him—into glory! Ephesians 4 asks:
What does “he went up” mean? It can only mean that he also came down to the lower, earthly places [the Incarnation]. The One who came down is the same as the One who went up—higher than all the heavens. He did it in order to fill all of creation [including your life and mine!]. (emphasis added)
As a 17th-century Scottish Puritan put it: “The dust of the earth now resides on the Throne of Heaven.”
Furthermore, because he became one of us by a transformative transaction that is irrevocable and irreversible and was revealed to the world nine months later on Christmas Day, there is coming another unprecedented day—not that long from now—when we will SEE our Lord Jesus “in the flesh.” You will. I will.
How do you imagine that auspicious moment unfolding for us?
Maybe we’ll experience him the way Thomas did when Jesus came to him a week after his resurrection (in the same body that once resided in a stable, but now glorified) and said to him:
“Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don’t be unbelieving. Believe.” Thomas said, “My Master! My God!” (John 20, The Message).
Stay alert! That day is coming when we will see him descending in the same way he ascended: bodily, visibly, triumphantly (see Acts 1). John tells us:
[S]tay with Christ. Live deeply in Christ. Then we’ll be ready for him when he appears, ready to receive him with open arms (1 John 2, The Message).
Seven surprises—no, make that eight surprises, actually. So, what do we do with these extraordinary truths about the REAL meaning of Christmas?
Above all, this Christmas, these truths should be the starting place for our praises. With new understanding, let’s celebrate this one supreme act of the Incarnation, realizing afresh that without it none of the rest—Christ’s crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension—could have ever happened. This is what the Yuletide message of Christ’s “in-flesh-ment” means for all of us.
The Redeemer of the nations was lowly born in a dark cave to homeless parents in order to bring unquenchable light and life into the perpetual night of our fallen world so as to bring us home to the Father.
No wonder at Christmastime the worldwide, worshipping Church heartily sings in a multitude of languages:
Silent night, holy night!
Son of God, love’s pure light.
Radiant beams from thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.
If you’d like to take additional steps out of this meditation, here are some options:
- Get a copy of my latest book, Christ Is NOW!, and read more about the Incarnation, such as pages 157-186. It’s available at a significant discount, plus free mailing, at Amazon.com.
- Listen to how I share about the Incarnation at my CHRIST TODAY PODCAST, starting with episode 19—available wherever you listen to podcasts or here on ChristNow’s website.
- Take another minute to view this short video about the incarnation. It’s titled “The Word Tabernacled Among Us.” You can find it here.
- Spend a few moments worshiping with the George Fox University choir by singing “Joy to the World” along with them.
About the Author
Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com.
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