“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:11,12)
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.” (Isa. 9:6) The birth of Jesus is a subject which will never grow old - a subject which, on the contrary shall to all eternity be a theme of angels and of men. To be rightly understood and esteemed, His birth must be considered from the standpoint of a gift of Divine Love. The Scriptures give us the key to the thought: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
The world was under sentence of death; mankind had been dying for more than four thousand years. God had pitied humanity from the first. Yes, before sin entered, Divine Wisdom saw the end, and would not have created man, or would not have permitted the condition which led to sin and the sentence of death, had Divine Wisdom not foreseen and arranged in advance for human redemption.
Why were all men in expectation of Him at the time of His birth? What was to be peculiar about Him to lead Israel to expect His birth? The answer to this question is that God had made a certain promise centuries before and the promise had not been fulfilled. This promise contained the thought that a holy child would be born, and that in some way, not explained in the promise, this child would bring the blessing the world needed. Therefore every mother among the Israelites was very solicitous that she might be the mother of a son rather than a daughter, that perchance she might be the mother of this promised child. Thus the matter went on for years until, finally, the child was born.
The promise behind the expectation was that which God made to Abraham, saying, “In thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 28:14) From that time forward Abraham began to look for the promised Seed - the promised child. He looked first of all to his own children, and was finally informed that it would not be one of his children directly, but that through their children, at some remote date, this child should be born - the Seed of Abraham. From that time onward, all the Israelites were waiting for the birth of the child that would bring the blessing.
But why was a Messiah necessary? Why wait at all for the birth of the child? The answer to this question is that sin had come into the world; God had placed our first parents, who were holy, pure and free from sin, in the glorious conditions of the Garden of Eden with every favorable prospect and everlasting life at their command if they continued in harmony with God. But by reason of their disobedience they came under Divine displeasure and sentence of death. This sentence of death has brought in its wake aches, pains, sorrows, tears, sighing, crying and death - all of these experiences as a result of sin.
Our heavenly Father said to our first parents that the seed of the woman would bruise the serpent’s head, and this was the first intimation that He gave them of a deliverance. (Gen. 3:15) The serpent in this expression means Satan - all the powers of evil, everything adverse to humanity, everything adverse to the blessings which God had given them, and which they had lost by disobedience. But the promise was vague and they understood little about the seed of the woman and bruising the serpents head. It merely meant in an allegorical way a great victory over sin and Satan, without explaining how it would come. The total victory over Satan was to come later. “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” (Rom. 16:20)
So humanity continued to die; they continued to have aches and pains and sorrows; they continued going down to the tomb. They realized that what they needed was some Savior to come and deliver them from the power of sin, to deliver them from the death penalty of sin - a Savior who would be, in other words, a Life-giver. They were dying and needed new life. This is the meaning of the word Savior in the language used by our Lord and the Apostles. They were hoping and expecting that God would send a Life-giver.
It was on this account that they were so greatly concerned regarding the promise made to Abraham, the promise that they would be granted a release from sin and death, for it would be impossible to bless mankind without this release. Hence, the Scriptures tell us of God’s sympathy; that God looked down from His holy habitation and beheld our sorrow, and heard, figuratively “the groaning” of humanity under this penalty of death -some with few aches and pains, and some with more aches and pains; some with few sorrows, and some with greater sorrows; but all groaning and travailing in pain. (Psa. 102:19-20; Rom. 8:22)
But God’s sympathy was manifested. He looked down and beheld that there was no eye to pity and no arm to save and with His own Arm He brought salvation. (Isa. 52:10) This is what was promised to Abraham - that one should come from his posterity who would be the Savior of the world; and because this promise was made to Abraham and to his Seed, they were marked out as separate from all other nations and peoples.
To the Jewish nation alone belonged this great honor - that through them should come this salvation. Hence from that time onward the Jews spoke of themselves as God’s people, the people whom God had promised to bless, and through whom He would bring a blessing to all others. Therefore, all other people were called heathen (or nations, which is what the word means). Israel was thus separated because God’s Covenant was with them, and not with the others. But God’s Covenant with Israel was for the blessing of all; the promise was that all the families or nations of the earth would be blessed. Now we know why this wonderful babe was born.
HOW WAS THIS BABE HOLY, HARMLESS, UNDEFILED?
How could He be a Savior? In what way could He be different from any other babe? Why not use some other babe as the one through whom salvation should come? The answer of the Bible is that salvation could not come to mankind unless there should be satisfaction of Justice on account of original sin. That must be the first consideration. The penalty, “Thou shalt surely die,” (Gen. 2:17) pronounced against the first man, must be met before the world could be blessed.
Why not let any man die? Because all were under the sentence of the original condemnation, and none could be a Ransom-price or a substitute: “None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.” (Psa. 49:7) Hence the necessity for a specially born babe, different from any other babe. In what way was this One differently born? The Bible explains to us very distinctly that He was not begotten of an earthly father. Although Joseph was espoused to Mary, yet this child was not the child of Joseph. The Bible explains that this child was specially begotten by Divine Power, in the mother, though she was still a “virgin” when she brought forth the child.
A SAVIOR - CHRIST THE LORD
It was prophetically, of course, that the babe of Bethlehem was called a Savior - He was to be a Savior, The Christ, the Lord. But as the babe He was none of these. He became The Christ before becoming the Savior and Lord. The word Christ signifies anointed. In the Divine purpose it was arranged that Messiah should be anointed High Priest of Israel on a higher plane than Aaron - after the order of Melchizedek. (Psa. 110:4) And every priest had to be anointed to his office before he could fill it. Similarly, it was prophesied that Christ would be the great King, greater than David and Solomon, who were His types and foreshadows.
This is the Scriptural proposition; and while it may not seem clear to some, yet the Word of God stands sure. If the Redeemer was not perfect then He could not be the Savior of the world. The promised redemption implied that Jesus would be perfect; it implied that He would be as the first man was before he sinned. “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:21,22)
So this One must be, as the Apostle declares, “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” (Heb. 7:26) He must be entirely distinct and separate from humanity so far as sinful features were concerned. If space permitted it would be interesting to go into the scientific features - how a perfect child could be from an imperfect mother. If we can have a perfect life germ we can have a perfect child from an imperfect mother. If a breeder of stock wishes to raise the standard of his stock, he selects a fine bull, a male goat, or a male ram, and thus he improves the entire herd. And so, if we had perfect fathers, we could soon have a perfect race. But there is no father who can produce a perfect child. Hence it was necessary in this case (and the Scriptures declare it was accomplished) that God should beget this Son by power from on high. Therefore, that which was born of the “virgin” was separate and distinct from all humanity. His life came not from an earthly father, but from His Heavenly Father.
FOR OUR SAKES HE BECAME POOR
It is written that Jesus had an existence before He became flesh; as He declared, “Before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58) Again in one of His prayers He said, “Father, glorify thou me … with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” (John 17:5) The Revelator tells us that He was “the beginning of the creation of God” (Rev. 3:14), and Paul says that all things are “by him.” (1 Cor. 8:6) And so our Lord Jesus was not only the beginning, but also the active agent of the Father in all the creative work in the angelic world, in the creation of humanity, and in all things that were created.
The whole matter is summed up by the Apostle John. We will give a more literal translation of “In the beginning was the Word.” (John 1:1) This expression, Word, in the Greek is Logos. The thought behind the word Logos is that in olden times a king, instead of speaking his commands directly to his people, sat behind a lattice work, and his Logos, or messenger, or word, or representative, stood before the lattice work, and gave the message of the king to the people in a loud tone of voice. The king himself was not seen by the people - the Logos was the one seen. So this is the picture the Scriptures give us of how Jesus was the express representative of the Heavenly Father, the One through whom the Heavenly Father made Himself known - the Word, or the Logos.
So we should properly read in the first chapter of John, “In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with the God, and the Logos was a god. The same was in the beginning with the God. By him were all things made, and without him was not anything made.” (John 1:1, see Diaglott translation)
In other words, Jesus was the direct Creator of all things. He was the Divine Power, Agent, Word, Messenger, the Logos of God the Father. He did all the great work of creation; but He Himself was the first of God’s direct creation, the First-born of all creatures, that in all things He might have the pre-eminence - the first place. (Col. 1:18)
When the time came that our Heavenly Father made known His great purpose to bless the world, He gave opportunity to the First-begotten One - begotten of the Father - to be the servant in this great work He intended to accomplish for mankind. Consequently, the Scriptures state that Jesus “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.” (Heb. 12:2) And now He has sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. He has this great reward because of His obedience, even unto death, the death of the cross.
The Apostle Paul speaks of Him as having been rich, but for our sakes becoming poor, that through His poverty we might be made rich. (2 Cor. 8:9) He tells us how He left the glory which He had with the Father and humbled Himself to the human nature. (Phil. 2:7-8) Why? Because, as already stated, it was necessary that someone should become man’s Redeemer; an angel could not redeem man, neither could an animal redeem man. The Divine law is “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” (Matt. 5:38) This was to teach us a great lesson: that because perfect human life was condemned to death, it would require a perfect human life to redeem it. It was therefore necessary that Jesus should become the “man Christ Jesus,” in order “that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” (1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 2:9)
It followed that He Himself proved His own faithfulness. “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Phil. 2:8) It pleased the Father to prove Him thus, not only by death, but by the most ignominious form of death - dying as a culprit, being crucified between two thieves. What a terrible ignominy to die thus!
It would be ignominy enough for us in our imperfection, but for He who was perfect it must have been a cause of deep and poignant sorrow. Having completed the laying down of His life at the end of three and half years, He cried, “It is finished!” (John 19:30) What was finished? Not His work, for much of that lay before Him. He merely finished this part of the work. He finished laying down His life as the ransom-price.
What followed next? After His death came His resurrection, and we read that “Him God raised up the third day.” (Acts 10:40) According to the Scriptures, He was raised up from death a glorious being: “sown in corruption … raised in incorruption … sown in dishonour … raised in glory … sown in weakness … raised in power … sown a natural body … raised a spiritual body.” (1 Cor. 15:42-44)
“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:9-11)
WHAT ABOUT THE FUTURE?
All the families of the earth are to be blessed, as God originally promised in Eden; and, as St. Paul reiterated, the next thing in order in the working out of God’s Plan will be to bruise Satan and destroy him.
This will be done when this Age ends, because this Age has been reserved for the development of the Bride class. Afterward the promised Free Grace will come to all the families of the earth. Messiah’s Kingdom will come and He has promised that when He reigns all His faithful will reign with Him: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” (Rev. 3:21) All the Church will be associated with Him in His great Messianic Kingdom and “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.” (Psa. 72:8) “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab. 2:14; Rom. 14:11)
The whole earth will become as the Garden of Eden. Paradise Lost will be Paradise Restored. The Divine Image lost in Adam will be restored to man. Human nature will be brought to perfection. But the glorious reward to the Church will be the Divine nature, to be like her Lord, to sit at His right hand, and to bless the world of mankind. Man will become not only perfect, having all that Adam had, but will have additional knowledge and character; and there is every evidence that this shall be an eternal blessing.
WILL NONE BE LOST?
Yes, the Scriptures tell us that some will be lost, and that the loss they sustain will be loss of life. “And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.” (Acts 3:23) St. Peter says: “But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption.” (2 Pet. 2:12)
When? When their eyes have been opened to see the Lord and to know His glorious character; when they will have had opportunity to appreciate and enjoy His blessing. When such intentionally reject the grace of God, they will die the Second Death, from which there is no resurrection, no hope of recovery. But thank God, there shall be no knowledge of suffering for them; they will be destroyed as brute beasts.
We rejoice today in proportion as we believe in this Babe of Bethlehem; in proportion as we believe He was manifested on our behalf; in proportion as we believe He died for our sins; in proportion as we recognize Him as the glorified Savior; in proportion as we have surrendered our hearts to Him and seek to do the things well pleasing to Him, we will have the peace of God.
Our hope on behalf of mankind in general is that in God’s due time His blessing will reach all - not the same blessing as that for the Church, but as St. Peter tells us: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive [retain] until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:19-21)
(Based on Reprint 4963)
GOD’S UNSPEAKABLE GIFT
"Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift." (2 Cor. 9:15)
Let us rejoice at this joyful season of the year and have our hearts filled with appreciation of the Divine Love and generosity, which gave us the great gift of Messiah, and thus indirectly a knowledge of the Kingdom yet to come and of our share in that Kingdom, which shall bless the world.
As we have freely received, let us freely give, and thus copy our Lord and the Heavenly Father. Some may have the opportunity of giving many gifts of many kinds. All will have the privilege of offering to their fellows, directly or indirectly, gifts of God’s love, by making known to them the riches of His grace, as presented in the Divine Plan of the Ages. The message of God’s love is the most precious thing we have ever received, and let us have this in mind when offering gifts to others that, whatever else we may or may not be able to give our dear friends and neighbors and loved ones, we may offer them this; and our manner and general deportment should show how we value it above rubies, and thus we may best commend the Gift of God to others and help them to appreciate it.
In such presentations kind words, kind looks, will proceed from the loving heart, which has itself been saved by the power of the truth from the domination of the Adversary and sin and selfishness. Let us learn to scatter these gifts of grace and truth and their happy influences to all about us, not just once a year, but every day and every hour, and not merely upon our friends, but, godlike, upon our enemies also, for “He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.” (Luke 6:35)
(Excerpt from Reprint 4298, with minor editing)
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 See Studies in the Scriptures, Volume V, Chapter 4.