The days are upon us when we again celebrate the wonder of wonders, the birth of our Lord. The story is simple and transparently clear—even the young children understand and know it. We, too, are so very familiar with the narrative; we have heard it so often. The angel, Gabriel, was sent from God to make the great announcement to the virgin Mary. He told Mary that she was favored of God and would bring forth the Son of the Highest who would reign over the house of Jacob forever. When Mary wondered how this would be, the angel told her that the power of the Highest would overshadow her; the Holy Ghost would come upon her. Therefore the child, whose name would be called Jesus, would be called the Son of God. Not quite a year later, Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem to be registered for the taxing. They found no room in the inn and so had to spend the night in a cattle stall. During the night the child was born. Laid in the manger was he and wrapped in rags.
The world rushed on unknowingly. Simple story of this birth of Jesus. Who knows, who cares? But this event is the very center of history! Some four thousand years before, God had created the world with a view to it. And all during that four thousand year period, God, according to His eternal, immutable counsel, guided the course of history so that all things pointed to this event. Then He came—God became flesh in order to save His people from their sins. Who knows, who cares? The vast majority of men do not. But the people of God do, for this is their salvation. This is the significance of the wonder of wonders. The Son of God became flesh in order to be the perfect mediator between God and His people. A wonder of Grace it is, not at all did His birth depend upon the will of man. He was born of a virgin. Thus God determined to glorify Himself and for that reason He created the world and man and all things. That, too, is the fundamental reason why we said it is the very center of all of history.
But is that the end? Is that all we can say about the incarnation? Of course not! All that that event stands for must yet be realized. Oh, to be sure, all is accomplished. Jesus, the Christ lived in perfect obedience to the Father. He met Satan’s temptations and overcame, He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows Who bore all of our grief and carried all of our sorrows, oppressed was He, afflicted all for our transgressions. Through it all He opened not His mouth as Isaiah writes. His obedience was perfect and complete to the very end. Salvation is accomplished full and complete. He has ascended and been exalted at Father’s right hand in highest glory. But all must yet be realized. This is the meaning of Christmas for the people of God.
The title of this editorial is “He Shall Return”. And that, too, we must see in the incarnation. The birth of Christ, remember, is the center of history. That implies that something follows it. Just as all things pointed to His first advent, so all things today point to His second. He shall return. Return to judge the living and the dead, to make all things new, to realize all the perfect work of redemption which is already accomplished.
All things, all events, occur with a view to that day of His return. That’s why there is war in Viet Nam, rebellion in the Congo, murder and bloodshed in Mississippi. All these and many more occurrences are pointing to exactly that fact of the second advent. This, too, is Christmas for the people of God.
As we celebrate the birth of our Lord let us be reminded of these things. Remember that just as all things were brought about by the hand of God with a view to His first coming, so all things are now brought about by the hand of God with a view to His second coming. That, too, we must see in the incarnation.
Who knows, who cares? The world does not. They will make their celebration an abomination to the Lord. They scoff at the virgin birth as a scientific impossibility. But we and the people of God everywhere know and care. This is our salvation, the Son of God in the likeness of sinful flesh. And as certainly as He came some two thousand years ago, He shall return upon the clouds to bring to final realization His perfect work. We shall be saved, His cause vindicated and God shall receive the glory.