The Deeper Meaning of Christmas

The Deeper Meaning of Christmas

by Ty Gibson  |  December 24, 2014

When we speak of the birth of Christ, we are speaking of the most sublime and astounding event in all of eternal history. God literally became a human being. “Without controversy,” Paul exclaims with wonder, “great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16).

Allow the profundity of the incarnational act to register upon your mind.

The ontological difference between a human and, say, a mosquito is massive from our standpoint as humans. And yet, the difference is minuscule compared to the span of ontological difference God traversed by becoming human. Humans and mosquitos are, after all, of the same category: material creation. God and humans, on the other hand, are of two radically distinct categories: Creator and creature.

What many of us don’t realize is the sheer magnitude of the sacrifice: not only was the condescension of Christ an enormous leap, it was also a permanent one.

As if it was not enough for God to take our humanity upon Himself at all, He chose to do so eternally, irreversibly. Deity is forever one with the human race. The incarnation brought about an eternal change in the very make up of God. Jesus laid aside His own existence as it had always been and He took up ours into His own. He had been divine, and only divine, for all eternal ages past. Now He’s not only divine, but also human. He is one with us in the closest possible sense—by actual identity, by nature, by brotherhood. Of God’s relation to humanity, it is written, “He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Hebrews 2:11).

in the exaltation of Christ to the right hand of the Father, humanity is included.

There is no indication in Scripture that the incarnation was a temporary arrangement. Jesus did not lay aside His humanity after the cross. He arose from the grave as much “the Son of man” as He went into the grave (Luke 24:39). He died God-as-man and rose from the dead God-as-man. Deity became human in Christ…

forever.

Bearing our humanity is a permanent, eternal condition for Him. And yet, while taking upon Himself our human nature, He has not ceased to be God. He remains a fully divine member of the Godhead. This presents to our minds an astounding truth: in the exaltation of Christ to the right hand of the Father, humanity is included. Paul explains:

“God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-6). “In union with Christ Jesus He raised us up and enthroned us with Him in the heavenly realms” (NEB).

When God the Son came down by means of incarnation, He enveloped humanity within Himself. Then He ascended to again occupy His original position of intimate union with the Father, all the while retaining our humanity intact within Himself. Paul explains further:

“In Christ all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in bodily form, and you are filled up with the fullness of the Godhead through Him” (Colossians 2:9-10, PT).

As unbelievable as it may seem, according to the apostle Paul, humanity has been incorporated into the Godhead by virtue of the incarnation. Stepping down from the throne of the universe, God grafted our human nature into the Trinity, creating an eternal, irreversible union between the human and the divine. He was born, He lived, He died, He was resurrected, and then ascended to resume His place in the Godhead, all while retaining our humanity as part of His own nature. Not only did He come down to where we are, He lifted us up to where He is. “God was manifested in the flesh…[and was ] received up in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16). Humanity is enthroned at the Father’s right hand in the divine-human person of Christ Jesus. He is there as our corporate representative. This very moment, a full-fledged member of the human race occupies the throne of the universe with the Father. At His Second Coming, we will catch up to our destiny in Christ by being enthroned with Him.

“In taking our nature, the Savior has bound Himself to humanity by a tie that is never to be broken. Through the eternal ages He is linked with us. ‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.’ John 3:16. He gave Him not only to bear our sins, and to die as our sacrifice; He gave Him to the fallen race. To assure us of His immutable counsel of peace, God gave His only begotten Son to become one of the human family, forever to retain His human nature. This is the pledge that God will fulfill His word. ‘Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder.’ God has adopted human nature in the person of His Son, and has carried the same into the highest heaven. It is the ‘Son of man’ who shares the throne of the universe. It is the ‘Son of man’ whose name shall be called, ‘Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.’ Isa. 9:6…In Christ the family of earth and the family of heaven are bound together. Christ glorified is our brother. Heaven is enshrined in humanity, and humanity is enfolded in the bosom of Infinite Love” (Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, p. 25-26).

Astounding!

We have been given a place in God’s universe just short of divine. We are no more than human, not in any sense made divine by this stunning arrangement. Our essential identity is not changed. But His is. He who was fully and only God has become just as fully human. God achieved something truly amazing on our behalf by means of the incarnation of Christ. The babe born in Bethlehem is the grand channel of divine grace to a race of rebels. By condescending to take our humanity upon Himself, so far from devaluing Himself, He has, in effect, elevated us.

Ty Gibson Co-Director
Light Bearers
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  • Doug

    It is also a grand mystery that a new order of being was created that has the capacity to partake of the infinite one. How can the eternal God enter finite humanity? We are fearfully and wonderfully made. This strange new order of beings created for an incomprehensible union with the divine. This newly created type of being that baffles the on looking universe of whom Jesus was the firstborn.

  • c.k. lester

    It’s simply amazing and stunning and incomprehensible. Would it be somewhat accurate to say that Jesus was fully human and God in title alone? He gave up omniscience. He gave up omnipresence. He gave up omnipotence. He gave up every attribute of “Godness,” and became a human being, so how else can we say He is “God” except that the Father bestows that title? I assume His memory was restored of His past life, or does He have no recollection of handing down the Ten Commandments except as Moses has told that story?

    Regardless, for our infinite Creator God to become a little baby occupying a finite body is unfathomable to mere mortals with three-pound brains, and I excitedly anticipate learning more and more and more, always approaching comprehension but never achieveing it, as eternity flows into the future.

  • Charles Rietman

    Thanks for writing this Ty! I was richly blessed by the insights put forth. My heart was warmed with a deeper appreciation of my Savior Immanuel, the Christ our Lord! Praise God for who He is and what He is like. God is Love!

  • Leon Ferguson

    If Christmas had a biblical meaning and origin, we would not have to jump to its defence by carving out a “deeper meaning” amid the flurry of ungodliness that pervades more than any other time in the year.

    Christmas CANNOT have a deep meaning involving Christ when it was not created to bring attention to Christ or to give meaning to the incarnation of Christ. I mean, how can a concocted secondary meaning affixed to a date be presented as the authentic primary meaning of it? Is that not deceptive?

  • Elise H

    Thanks, Ty. “Long lay the world in sin and error pining, til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.”

  • Derek

    I agree with you that the date means nothing historically. But for many, the date is inextricably linked in their mind with the story of the incarnation. And so, to talk of the incarnation and focus on its meaning at this time is a great ministry. It would be just as appropriate to talk of the incarnation at any other time of the year; one would find a much less receptive or interested audience. I think Romans 3:3 is a fitting contemporary on the “season”: “For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?” What if some celebrate the holiday completely focused on self? Does their selfishness negate the experience of others who want to focus on the gift of Jesus? Paul’s answer: God forbid! (Certainly not!) And while there is more hypocrisy at this time than any or most others, I don’t know that it is the time of most ungodliness. But that’s my two cents. To simplify: Christmas may have no deeper meaning, but the incarnation has a very deep meaning, and it’s not inappropriate to discuss THAT deeper meaning at this time.

  • Leon Ferguson

    Derek, nice way to twist the real point here, but the FACT is that to say Christmas has a “deep authentic meaning” when we know it is a pagan celebration of false goddeses and their sons, makes any one of us that makes that argument deceptive. It is NOT TRUE… Simple.
    However, I dont know where you live or your experiences. So if you’re saying people have been lead to Christ “because of christmas” and the “evangelism this season allows” (which i’ve never seen validated), then that’s fine for you….where i am from, it is the most ungodly time of the year. …and I am saying THERE IS A REASON FOR THAT…and the reason is, it is a pagan institution, created for indulgence in worldly things, under the cloak of a “christian” festival. Just like the carnival season preceded by “easter”… and That’s a fact. No contortion of scripture to fit the bill needed.

    Like the way you put it, but don’t ascribe to Paul an endorsement he did not and would not make. 90% focus on self. why? bcus it is a selfish season. To buy stuff for SELF and to give gifts to people who don’t need gifts so SELF can be pleased. Fact.
    The 10% focusing on the gift of Jesus…great. But i’d advise them not to wait until then to do that, but rather to do it daily.