God created man in His ‘image and likeness’ but the devil through sin turned him into a totally different image by pushing him into the deep darkness of sin. Man was thus was rendered incapable and not worthy to be able to gaze at the glory of God. A large number of prophets and apostle of God tried but failed to open his eyes nor retrieve him from the clutches of the devil. It was then that God became man to help the lost and stranded mankind to see the only way to reach Him, by following His Son. But why did the Almighty God resort to such a painful step of becoming pain?
God created heaven and created spiritual beings, the angels, to worship Him and to carry out any tasks assigned to them, but they had no rights to rule in heaven (Genesis 1:1). Lucifer was the perfect cherub to lead in the worship of God till inequity was found in him and he was cast away ‘as a profane thing out of the mountain of God’ (Ezekiel 28:15-16). The void and without form state of the earth, with darkness over it was the result of the devil and his follower angels being cast down there or otherwise is uncertain (Genesis 1:2).
After creating man in His image and likeness, God entrusted to him and his generations dominion rights over all of creation including the birds, beasts and the sea creatures (Genesis 1:28-30). Man was God’s representative, king of the earth and all that is in it. After their act of surrender to the voice of the devil, the dominion rights over all of the earth passed on to the devil and mankind became subservient to him (Genesis 3:23). When the devil offered the ‘kingdoms of the world’ to the Son of God, Lord Jesus did noy contest his right (Matthew 4:8-9).
In this situation, God could either destroy all of His creation and create everything afresh; destroy Satan and snatch the rulership of the earth and all that is in it from him or fulfill the conditions of legal redemption of these rights. The first would mean defeat of God at the hands of a created being, the devil; the second would be wrong for a just God. God took the third option and the ‘seed of the woman’ shall bruise the head of the devil, the serpent, and he will in turn bruise his heel and both will suffer (Genesis 3:15). Woman does not have seed and it is the male who plants his seed in the woman’s womb, which acts as the soil, to bear fruit of a child. The sins of the fathers are passed on to the children and not from the mother and that is why father’s name is connected to them (Exodus 20:5).
The rights over all the earth were given to a man and this would pass on to his generations born through the woman. As such the claimant to these rights has to be born of a woman for without that he cannot inherit these rights not claim the same. All conditions must be met for God is a righteous judge (Psalm 7:11) and will not and cannot change (Malachi 3:6). This challenger to the devil must not be born in sin for that would make him subordinate to him. Thus that person must be born righteous and live a righteous sinless life. Also since death resulted from sin, that person must suffer death to pay the price of sin but without committing any sin for then his death would pay the price for sin committed by mankind.
King David wondered, ‘What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that You (God) visit him?’ ) Psalm 8:4). God’s answer to this question of mankind is, ‘Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?’ says the LORD God, ‘and not that he should turn from his evil ways and live’ (Ezekiel 18:23). The sin of lucifer was his desire to ‘ascend into heaven’ to exalt himself above the other angels and to ‘be like the Most-High’ God Himself and have a parallel kingdom (Isaiah 14:13-14). On being caught in his sin, his likely answer to God, as we see his talk about Job, would have been, ‘it is impossible for anyone with such great talents as he had, to remain perfect and not sin’. This would be another issue to confront the devil with, through anyone who would claim to fulfill the other conditions.
Thus, the purposed Redeemer must be born holy, live holy without committing any sin, be born of a woman without inheriting the sinful nature of man, face all temptations and trials like a normal person on earth and then suffer death for no fault of his. To fulfill all these conditions, God could not have created such a being and he had to be born of a woman only. The only way was for God to plant His seed in the woman through His spirit and be born as a child and undergo all the procedures of growth, dependence on others for care and protection fulfilling all the roles of a normal child of a family and then die.
Importance of the Virgin Birth – The prophecy about this birth was, ‘Behold, the LORD Himself will give you a sign; Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel’ (God with us) (Isaiah 7:14). This would fulfill the condition of the birth of a righteous and sinless being as a male child, since only a male could inherit the family rights. God was with Adam and Eve in the garden, visiting them every evening, yet they sinned. Immanuel prophesy is about God becoming part of human race to reveal Himself to them. Angel Gabriel visited Mary, a virgin, engaged to Joseph and after telling her about the birth of the child also about the way it will happen. ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God’ (Luke 1:27 & 35).
The child will be born holy and the virginity of Mary would be broken from inside out by the birth of the child. A virgin had to bear the child so that there was no possibility of contamination of the human seed to destroy the purity of the Redeemer. Also it was to ensure that there be no doubt about the fulfillment of the prophecy about the One being born being the Son of God, since God only can do this. Joseph was informed by the angel about the truth of Mary’s pregnancy and he took her as his wife ‘and did not know her (consummate the marriage) till she had brought forth her firstborn son’ (Matthew 1:24-25).
The people of Nazareth did not recognize Lord Jesus as the Son of God but as Joseph, the carpenter’s son and his brothers James, Joses, Simon and Judas and his sisters, meaning more than one daughter. The mention of the ‘firstborn’ for the Lord and the details of other children clearly state that Joseph and Mary lived as husband and wife after Lord Jesus’ birth.
LORD God promised King David in reply to his plan to construct a house for God in Jerusalem, ‘When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish His kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of His kingdom forever’ (2 Samuel 7:12-13). The Hebrew word ‘bayith’ means house and also family. The Son of David was to establish God’s family/house on earth and His throne would be forever. Both Mary and Joseph were from the lineage of King David and all those who believe in Lord Jesus as the Living Word have received the blessing to be part of God’s family by becoming His children (John 1:12).
The virgin birth reveals the Divine Origin of Lord Jesus for only in fulfillment of the Prophecy could one declare that the Word that was God and was with God became flesh and we saw His glory (John 1:1 & 14). Second, His birth through a woman proved His being fully human and Immanuel became one of us. Third, the sinlessness of the Lord for sin passed from father to the children and His Father was God. He became the Second Adam, born sinless as the first was created sinless ‘to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin’ (1 John 3:5). Four, manifestation of God’s grace was in the uniqueness of His Son in His birth, in His ministry, in His death without fault, in His resurrection, in His ascension and also in His disciples. Five, the coming of the Messiah was for restoration of the Divine rule over the earth as it was done at the time of creation. The earth then was ‘formless and empty’ and dark and in like manner Virgin Mary’s womb was empty, dark and a barren place (Genesis 1:2). ‘The Spirit of God was hovering over the waters’ and the Spirit of God came upon Mary (Luke 1:35).
The Immaterial (Holy Spirit) and the material joining together to produce the Child could only be from God who alone can form out of nothing like the miracle of creation and the virgin birth. God required a ‘lamb without blemish’ as a sacrifice for a sin offering and His own Lamb also had to be sinless (without spot) to be the Perfect Sacrifice for the sins of humanity (Exodus 12:5). God ‘made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him’ (2 Corinthians 5:21). The prophecy regarding the virgin birth was in line with the curse upon the serpent of the ‘seed of woman’ crushing his head and is one important aspect of the ministry of the Messiah as our Savior (Genesis 3:15).
The origin of Christmas celebration – Since the shepherds were with their sheep out in the fields, the birth of Christ could not have been in winter when they would keep indoors. In fact Christmas was not celebrated till the third century AD when the first Roman Emperor to be baptized was Constantine and he noticed the celebration of the sun god by the people as a ‘festival of light’. In 336 A D, Constantine decided to celebrate this as the birth of the ‘True Light of the World’ on 25 December every year. Apostle John identified the Lord as the ‘light of men’ in Whom was life (John 1:4). Lord Jesus revealed Himself in His Divine state as ‘the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life’ (John 8:12).
Christmas word itself is derived by the combination of two words – Christ + mass, meaning a meeting together in and for Christ, the Messiah. The day is a celebration with the spirit of giving and togetherness, a time to think of others, to forgive, start afresh and assess or life to become better followers of the Lord. God gave His Son and we give ourselves to Him in surrender of self.
Since this day is celebrated as Festival of Lights, we must listen to the lights by understanding their purpose. First, the lights are placed outside and we must be light for others to lead them into salvation in and through the Son of God. Second, with darkness of sin all around, even the little light that we shine is enough to dispel the evil and show the way. We are only to be the pointers for then God the Holy Spirit to work in their lives. Three, God is love and ‘he who does not love does not know God’ and as followers of Lord Jesus (1 John 4:8), who is the true representation of God’s love for mankind, we also must show love to others. Christmas giving is an expression of that love. Four, God gave His only begotten Son for mankind that had turned away from Him and we must learn to give without expectation of any recognition or rewards. Five, the Son of God humbled Himself and despite being God He became a servant of mankind and Christmas spirit is about humility and service of others. Seven, Christmas is not only about giving and receiving gifts but about repentance and turning to God and surrender to be available for His will to be done through us. In this there may be suffering also but God gives strength to overcome such situations.
Most people see Christmas as a time of holidays, partying, buying gifts for others and for self and generally having a good time while forgetting the Son of God and the purpose of His coming. Focus on that and then like Mary commit yourself, ‘Behold the maidservant of the LORD! Let it be to me according to your word’.
God did not become Man to only redeem us from the clutches of sin but also to shut the mouth of the devil and his agents that God is not aware of the sufferings and state of mankind. Whatever man is required to undergo during his stay on earth, was taken upon Himself by the Savior Lord. He is our True High Priest and Intercessor in heaven to seek the hand of blessings of God on us to strengthen us to be His true witnesses. Christmas is not celebration with the gifts under the Christmas Tree but a celebration of and in the heart.