Summary: Grace was revealed to mankind in the birth of Jesus, the Christ.
“At the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
“And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord’) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.’ Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
‘Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.’
“And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.’
“And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
“And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.”
The Christmas story is so much more than the birth of a child. If the One whose birth we celebrate was only a great teacher, why should God celebrate through sending angels to announce the birth? If the child was but a prophet, regardless of how great His prophecies, could we really expect that God would set a star in His heavens to announce that birth? This birth was much more than the birth of another child, for God sent His Son. And yet, in His birth He shared with us our condition.
“When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” [GALATIANS 4:4, 5]. This is the apostolic statement concerning the Advent of the Son of God. This advent, this coming, this incarnation merits more careful study if we will fully appreciate what God has done.
GRACE WAS MADE OBEDIENT — “At the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
“And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord’) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons’” [LUKE 2:21-24].
Struggling with how to shape the message, I questioned whether I should emphasise that grace was made obedient or whether I should stress that grace was made submissive. You do understand that an obedient spirit is a submissive spirit. The Son of God submitted Himself to the will of the Father, becoming obedient to that same will. Don’t make too much of the fact that I am stressing Christ’s obedience; know that He submitted Himself to the Father in order to be obedient. This is clearly seen in the words Paul employed when writing to the Philippian Christians. “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” [PHILIPPIANS 2:5-8].