Summary: I cannot fathom the great love of God that was made known to us in His Son; that Jesus would give up His glory to come into the world as a lowly baby. Why would He suffer and die for any man?
Harmony of the Gospels
(8) Proclamation by the Angels
I cannot fathom the great love of God that was made known to us in His Son; that Jesus would give up His glory to come into the world as a lowly baby. Why would He suffer and die for any man? In 1 Timothy 3:16, it speaks of this great mystery, “Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great; He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen of angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.” This verse probably constitutes one of the earliest creeds of the church.
“The mystery of godliness is great.” The mystery of godliness is that God in the person of Jesus Christ entered the world in which we live, died for our sins and is making men and women godly—that is, with God likeness.
“He appeared in a body.” Paul is talking about the virgin birth. Jesus has the body of a man, but as God-man, He did not give up His divinity, but He did give up His glory. Before the incarnation, He existed as a spirit: He was, “…Being in very nature God...” (Philippians 2:6). Hebrews 1:3, speaks of Christ as “…The radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being.” The Lord Jesus Himself said, “…God is spirit...” (John 4:24).
From this spiritual condition as God, who was never seen by human eyes, Jesus came into the world in the flesh, to be seen. He entered in a human condition, and the attributes of His spiritual condition were veiled. There were only rare glimpses of His glory; at His baptism, at His transfiguration and at His ascension. When Jesus was upon earth He did not appear to men as what He really was and men did not recognize who He was. The one, who was in the beginning with God, was God and who made all things was overlooked because He became a helpless little baby. He was the image of God and had all power in heaven and earth, but down here He was meek and lowly. Because men did not recognize him, He was called a liar, an imposter and a devil. Men hated him and they murdered Him. Jesus was poor, He was tempted and tried and He actually shed tears.
“vindicated by the spirit” He was manifested or made known to us in the flesh, but He was not justified in the flesh. We could see Him in the flesh, but He was justified or vindicated in the spirit at the resurrection. When He came back from the dead, that is when we saw Him justified. I Corinthians 15:44 says, “It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body...” No enemy laid a hand on Him after He was raised from the dead. He will never be dishonored again.
“Was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world.” He is still being preached to every nation and many are still coming to believe in Him.
“Was taken up in glory.” Today He is in heaven, but someday we shall see His glory. Have you thanked Him for His great gift of salvation? Have you told Him that you love Him? How wonderful He is!
“Was seen of angels.” Angels announced His birth to simple shepherds, but it was a spectacular demonstration of the glory that He left behind.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night; (Luke 2:8)
Many people ask, “When was Christ born?” We don’t know the exact date, but when He was born is not important. The important thing is that He was born. Also, the scripture does not say when He was crucified; the important thing is that He died for your sins.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shown around about them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born; He is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:9-11)
Jesus could have entered the world the same way He will when He comes the second time; in great power and glory. But instead He came as a helpless baby. That is the way the Savior entered the world. He did not lay aside His deity, but He did lay aside His glory. There should have been more than just a few shepherds there to welcome Him. It is a wonderful thing to see a baby born. I can remember when my son and daughter were born. It was a time of great joy and I wanted to tell everyone how beautiful they were. Jesus deserved a better birth, but He came to fulfill scripture and his birth happened just like the prophecies said it would, hundreds of years earlier.