Monday, December 23, 2013

The day God tore the veil

I have always been a little next to reluctant on whether I want to celebrate Christmas or not. This year, however, I have decided I want to celebrate Christmas not as many people would but quietly in my heart. I would remember the significance of the day on which Christ was born into our world (whether that day falls on 25th December or not). Upon remembering this day, I think of God's awesome ways in dealing with his creation of humanity. With this post let me tell you about the things of Christmas that strike me the most.

God's ways are not compatible with the way of the world. Whereas the world roots for the strong, God favors the weak. This is best summed up by Mary's magnificat:

He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty. (Luke 1:52-53 NIV)

The world's idea of royalty is elevation above the common, God's idea is very different - in fact it is the complete opposite of man's. Even though Mary and Joseph belonged to the lineages of Abraham and king David they were poor and handicapped by their social status as commoners. Sure they did have kings and queens as their ancestors, but they also had Rahab (a prostitute), Bathsheba (an adulteress who sinned with David) and Ruth (a Moabite whose race was born from incest by Lot and his daughter). Still they were chosen to be parents of the Son of God.

Mary was a virgin and the virgin birth of Christ symbolized the concept of 'Last Adam'. Just as the 'birth' of Adam was not of natural means so was the birth of Jesus. Even more striking is this - the first Adam was God creating life, the last Adam was God entering life. The prophet Isaiah said,

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14 NIV)

Immanuel means 'God with us'. The idea of God penetrating the veil of space and time and actually dwelling among us is mind boggling. Mary, Joseph, the wise men and all who were present at the time of Christ's birth knew this and this was their reason for bowing down to the child.

Before Christ, a vast gulf existed between humanity and God. Man's efforts to bridge that gap comprised of religion, and like most of man's efforts it failed. God, however, chose to bridge that gap himself and this was done through the person of Jesus Christ - the Son of God.

In the temple of Solomon, there was a veil that existed between man and the inner sanctuary - The Holy of Holies. The veil is a symbol of a wall that existed between creation and the Creator. It was torn apart on the day of the crucifixion of Christ, thus completing the bridge between God and man. In order to connect with humanity God became a human being. He emptied himself of all the glories of the divine and became humble - a nobody.

...he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (Philippians 2:7 NIV)

And through the likeness of a servant he became our brother. As the Hebrew writer says,

So now Jesus and the ones he makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters. (Hebrews 2:11 NLT)

What must have Mary felt as she held the infant Christ in the palm of her hands? Here was the creator of all things - fragile in the hands of creation. I made you and yet I am here in your hands. Today, can we be bold enough to do good things to our friends and neighbors and yet lay humble before them?

True humility cannot come unless we like Christ have emptied ourselves. True humility, which is to think of everyone better than ourselves, cannot come until we allow Christ to take the reins as he himself says,

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29 NIV)

For more about my thoughts on Jesus Christ read my book 'The Man from Galilee'.