As people celebrate Christmas with all its symbols, regardless of what they think the exact time and year of God’s divine condescension among us are, this is what this season represents to me as a spiritual reality.
As I was reflecting upon the incarnation of our Savior Christ Jesus as the supreme gift of our Heavenly Father to mankind, I could not help but think of the limited perspective that we sometimes have of the infinite measure of all of God’s attributes and works in the vast universe He created but also in each of our lives.
The first thing I consider when I ponder the miracle of the supernatural birth of Jesus-Christ is that God chose to manifest His presence in the flesh as a seed of the Holy Spirit in the chosen womb of Mary.
Imagine a little! The creator and sustainer of the endless universe becoming a frail human being Himself, subject to the natural law of human birth and physical existence.
What is amazing is that as we follow the course of His birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension and His coming back to take His own faithful ones to reign with Him, the same characteristic stages apply to us who have experienced the second spiritual birth and have passed from death to life, from the kingdom of darkness into His marvelous light.
As the mature tree is essentially contained in the seed just waiting to develop through the different stages of growth, so was the life of the Lord Jesus, and so is every one of our lives.
An illustration from the sharing of presents on Christmas day comes to mind. Imagine one of the presents being a huge box with someone’s name on it. The person feverishly tears off the paper, hoping to discover a big present that will provide a level of satisfaction commensurate to its perceived size. But as the box reveals another smaller box hidden under the packing peanuts, he suspects someone is playing a joke on him as he realizes from the sheer weight of the box.
As he keeps on opening another box, then another one, he finally opens the last tiny box; and no matter what the value of the present, it leaves him or her with a sense of unfulfilled expectation and diminished satisfaction. Here in brief is how the acquiring and enjoying of material things which are supposed to fulfill our lives from the cradle to the grave end up being a great disappointment and a snare in the end. Not so with the present from our God, the free gift of salvation available to anyone willing to accept and receive it.
Conversely, imagine that you received the gift of God, salvation by grace in a small box. After receiving and opening the gift, once your life is changed by that spiritual tiny seed, you realize that as you grow, the gift keeps on growing as you learn and mature into eternal everlasting life, the box of our life, so to speak, getting bigger and bigger.
Now consider another angle to giving and sharing presents:
Jesus, talking about greed, said that life doesn’t consist in the abundance of things (Luke 12:15). And He told the people, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven… For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
Jesus is not only talking about treasures, but incorruptible treasures! What is He talking about? He is talking about treasures that have their beginning as an intangible seed beginning here on the earth and continuing in Heaven and/or enjoying all the stages of the growth of the seed in two dimensions simultaneously, in the physical body while at the same time in the invisible realm of the spirit.
He means treasures like the Christian virtues: generosity of spirit, goodness, mercy, humility, faith, wisdom, spiritual knowledge, love, patience, fruits of the Spirit, all intangible but whose effects are felt when translated into good works and service to our brothers, sisters and fellow man. And, of course, included are all the material gifts that he has blessed us with in superabundance to share with those less fortunate than us and to provide the means to advance the Kingdom of God, through preaching of the Gospel through gifts to missions throughout the world. Everything that will become the stones building the foundation of our sphere of influence in the coming Kingdom.
In I Timothy 6:18-19, Paul tells Timothy to “Command those who are rich in this present world… to put their hope in God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way, they will lay up for themselves a firm foundation for the coming age so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
It is obvious that one can build a house or a building only as tall and as large as the dimensions of the foundation supporting it, otherwise the building collapses.
In the Bible we can find several mentions of this manifestation of life as encapsulated in the title of Our Lord who is the Alpha, the beginning and Omega, the end and, of course, everything in between.
We can find the image of the seed in I Peter 1:23. “For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is through the living and abiding Word of God.”
Isaiah 9:6-7 promise of the coming Messiah follows this development: “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us, and the government will rest upon His shoulders … there will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace.”
To give another perspective to our modern misguided interpretation of authority, let’s look at the test of authority as it applies to governing a people. To resolve the problem of questioning of Aaron the high priest’s leadership by the other leaders of Israel, God caused Aaron’s rod, sign of his delegated authority, to instantly sprout, put forth buds and bear ripe almonds (Numbers 17:8). And the best of it is that it started from a piece of dead wood, the wood of an almond tree. Here in a nutshell, we have a transformation (resurrection), new birth and growth, a flowering branch and a mature nut ready for nourishment. Now real and good delegated authority consists in extracting the nut out of the shell without crushing the nut. Why would God choose an almond branch out of all the possibilities?
As an aside, it is a good lesson in the discipline of children. If we want almond paste mixed with hard bits and pieces of shell mixed together, then we can crush the entire almond with brute force. If we want to raise emotionally and spiritually healthy children, we need to apply discipline with the wise and loving, but firm instruction provided by God, breaking the strong will, but not crushing the spirit. Thus, the seed will grow into maturity and produce a good fruit or a good nut in this case!
Salvation, knowledge and wisdom are part of the incorruptible treasures that Christ talks about in Matthew. Talking about Christ, Isaiah 33:6 declares: “He will be a sure foundation for our times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge: The fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.”
This salvation which starts as a spiritual seed planted by the Holy Spirit Himself in the hearts of men who have received Him on His terms is ever expanding and revealing the loving heart of our Heavenly Father at this time of the year and all year long. “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:5).
Paul prays for the Ephesians in Ephesians 3:14-17 that: “He would grant you according to the riches of His glory to be strengthened with power through His spirit in the inner man so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
This is also my prayer for all of us today and for the coming year.
Contrary to the philosophy of this passing and dying world, the present of eternal life in Christ Jesus started as a tiny seed: first the human seed inherited from our natural father, and then the Holy Spirit seed that contained all that is necessary to fulfill the purpose for which our Father and Creator put us on this earth. See I Corinthians 15:45-46, “So it is written: ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual” (NIV).
So this Christmas season until the beginning of 2020 and beyond, I invite you to remember with grateful and humble hearts, that the tiniest and most humble manifestation of life, a human seed, a tiny baby in his or her mother’s womb, is infinitely precious and worthy of protection and nurturing because it was made in God’s image (Psalm 139).
I invite you also to let your hearts and minds expand onto other amazing dimensions of life and consider all the stages of the life of the Savior in His birth, His death, His resurrection, His going back into the glory of Heaven, and His coming back to give us glorified bodies; for we have already been resurrected (spiritually) if we have been born again, starting as a tiny seed wrapped up in a small and fragile package that we all are, as pilgrims on this earth.
This season, Jesus offers us hope, joy and peace in a world sadly lacking these blessings.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
Lord God, our loving Heavenly Father, we thank you and praise you for the gift of life present and eternal in Our Lord Jesus-Christ.