Whole Life Whole Bible Day 28
Luke 2:1 (NASB)
1 Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.
Luke 2:4-7 (NASB)
4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, 5 in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. 6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
27: The Word became flesh
It’s such an ordinary story — government orders, people on the move, a baby born in a mucky corner of a third world city to a not-yet-married mother. We know the story, ‘celebrated’ in tinsel and pictures of reindeer from Tokyo to Timbuktu, from San Francisco to Seoul. And this one ordinary baby has had influence beyond anyone else, born before or since — with millions counting their years and their history from his birth, millions knowing his name, one way or another.
Matthew ties Jesus’ birth into the Old Testament story: ‘fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah’ (1:17). The songs in Luke 1-2 also have deep roots in promises of old, celebrating God’s grace in bringing about the fulfillment of his covenant with Abraham. The birth of this child signifies the end of pain for humanity, the presence of God in mercy, the coming of the golden age. John reaches further back, to the very dawn of all things: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… Through him all things were made… the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us’ (1:1, 3, 14).
The Word became flesh. This pivotal point in all history — the history of our world, of creation, of the universe; the history of humans, from the moment when they are made in the image of their creator, through the Fall, and to the end of time — comes with the birth of one small, vulnerable, helpless human being, whose significance and uniqueness have unimaginable implications for you and for me.
This intertwining of the mundane and the marvelous continues as we read through the four Gospels. We experience a gradual unveiling as we follow the contours of Jesus’ story, as we begin to understand who he is and what he comes to do. We rejoice that this man, our Lord and Savior, understands what it means to be human, vulnerable and subject to thirst and weariness, pain and death. We rejoice in all the promises of salvation, forgiveness, mercy and grace won for us on the cross. And we rejoice that he rose from the dead and promises that resurrection to us too — ‘born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth’ (Charles Wesley, 1739).
For further reflection and action
Can you look back and see evidence of God working in your life before you asked him to be in it?
‘The Word of God’ sounds throughout the Bible. Reflect on the biblical background behind the use of the word ‘Word’ in John’s first chapter. Look at Genesis 1:3, where God speaks, and it happens, and at Revelation 22:20, where he speaks again: ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ In what ways has God spoken to you in the past week?
Reflect on the cultural traditions of Christmas as practiced in your household and your part of the world. How far should Christians challenge or affirm aspects of the popular patterns of this ‘celebration’?
Visit LICC to find out more or get an overview of the Biblical narrative and the ways it can shape us by reading the Introduction to Whole Life, Whole Bible from the Whole Life, Whole Bible book.