Traditionally, Christmas time is an opportunity to focus on the incarnation – God becoming man.
The startling claim is that God took up human form in the person of Jesus, the Messiah, and fulfilled the long-awaited promise of God to Abraham: “In your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed”. Through God’s faithfulness to Israel, the Saviour of the world was born.
It was not going to be simply an appearance of God on the earth, as if it were a token or guest appearance on the stage of world history. God was actually going to live here in fulfilment of his age-old desire to set up his dwelling place among his human creation. Just as God first set up home amongst his people in the Tabernacle and then the Temple, so now God was manifesting his glory in the Messiah sent into the world.
This work led Jesus, the Messiah, not only to be born but also to die on the cross for our sins and be raised again from the dead. He has ascended into heaven for a time and will soon come back to earth to bring God’s plan to glorious completion. When Messiah comes again he will bring in the new heavens and the new earth and God will set up permanent home among us. This will mean everything that the Christmas message promises – joy to the world, peace on earth and a permanent home for righteousness.
But what happens in the meantime? We know Jesus’ body is in heaven, resurrected and glorified. We also know he has sent his Spirit into our lives and he binds us together as the community of Messiah on the earth. Jesus is therefore still active on the earth. We are his body, we are his temple and we are his people.
Just as Israel was called to be the light to the nations, so also we have been called. We are his body, his arms his feet. We reflect his glory into the darkness of the world. Through us, the light of Messiah invites all nations, both Jews and Gentiles, to come and know the true and the living God.
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