O Holy Night
Incarnate: “to embody in flesh; invest with a bodily form.” From the Latin word incarnāre “to make into flesh.”
Have you ever wondered what was going through Christ’s mind before Holy Spirit transformed Him into a microscopic seed and carried Him to the womb of a young girl? He was about to become breakable. Did He wonder how it would feel to no longer be omnipresent? Omniscient? Omnipotent? Did He wonder how physical pain would feel? Hunger? Thirst? Weariness? Cold? Heartache? Loss?
Christ knew He would have to: fight His way through a birth canal, be fed, be bathed, learn to crawl, develop balance and walking skills, form words, grow, gain knowledge. He would experience sleep, scrapes, blisters, callouses. He would enter the realm of time. He would bleed.
One has to wonder if Jesus ever reconsidered the plan/process. Since He was “the Lamb slain” before we were even created (Revelation 13:8), I don’t suppose He did. Yet, just before Holy Spirit held Him and began the transformation, there must have been at least an emotional, “Here we go…I’m about to be human!” And then He was - there was no turning back.
Numerous questions come to mind as I consider Christ’s humanness:
As a child, when did the first awareness of who He was begin to set in?
When did He first look up at a star filled sky and think, I made that.
When did He first recall saying, “Let there be…”
When did the calculus of our solar system begin creeping back into His memory?
Did He ever have a nightmare?
When did He stop asking Mary questions and start explaining things to her?
Did His siblings wonder at His gifts, intellect?
Who was His best friend growing up?
What did His laugh sound like?
What was His favorite color…food? Was there any food - which He, of course, created - that He didn’t like?!
At what age did His carpentry skills begin superseding those of Joseph? Did they ever joke about it?
How old was He when Joseph died? How did He deal with the pain?
How did He react the first time He saw a serpent…or first observed cruelty, violence or greed?
When He heard lightning, did He smile? (Luke 10.18)
And when did the love that demanded His humanness - the passion for His eternal bride - begin welling up in His chest?
As He fashioned wood in His carpenter shop, did He ever pause and gaze pensively toward a hill in Jerusalem?
Did He wince when He drove nails?
We will never truly understand the ramifications, intricacies and complexities of the incarnation. Merging the limitations of “humanness” with an infinite God simply can’t be computed by human brains. Indeed, Paul referenced Christ as God’s “indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15). But it is healthy to ponder it, nonetheless. We must, in fact. It is imperative that we consider the cost to Christ. It’s essential that we wonder at such love, marvel at the plan and stand in awe at its audacity.
So this year on Christmas Day, take some time to think about it. Sing, or listen to, Silent Night, Away In A Manger, O Holy Night or your favorite Christmas carol and intently consider the words. Recapture the wonder. Read the story again in Luke’s gospel. Close your eyes and try to envision Mary’s angelic visitation. Put yourself in Joseph’s shoes - how hard would it be to believe Mary’s story? See the stars, the stable, the manger, the Christ-child. Then converse with Abba and Jesus. Thank them…for Christmas, yes, but also for the cross. The purpose of Christmas was the Cross.
I leave you today with the lyrics of one of my most loved Christmas songs: O Holy Night. My favorite line is, “Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.”
“O Holy Night!
The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior's birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices.
Oh night divine, Oh night when Christ was born.
Oh night divine,
Oh night divine.
“Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the wise men from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need - to our weakness is no stranger
Behold your King, before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, before Him lowly bend!
“Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother,
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever!
His power and glory evermore proclaim!
His power and glory evermore proclaim!” (1)
Now, do yourself a favor and use this link to watch/listen to Josh Groban’s version of the song. This YouTube version gives us a visual of that holy night when Christ was born. Maybe even gather the family and watch it together. You’ll be glad you did. (For those of you watching, we will provide the link below.)
Click on the link below to watch the full video.