And Famously Wrapped in Swaddling Clothes

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Christmas Eve 2020

If we understand the message of Christmas rightly, we understand it not only as the celebration of the birth of the Christ, but also as the starting point or birthplace of our faith.

According to Scripture, faith is the natural and spontaneous response to the perceived faithfulness of God. When God is known to be faithful, as one true to His promises, faith is the natural response. For example, this is how Sarah’s faith is described for us:

“Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.”

Hebrews 11:11 (KJV)

Her faith is described as the response she had because she considered the one who had promised her a child to be faithful. When God is seen to be faithful, that seeing is what we call faith.

The normal pathway this takes is through the declared or written Word. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). So most of the time, the Word is heard—in the very nature of the case. It is a Word, after all.

But the preached or declared Word is entirely dependent on another reality, which is this: the Word was once conceived in a virgin’s womb, and grew there, and was born, and was suckled, and held, and famously wrapped in swaddling clothes. For the first generation of Christian believers, the Word was not just heard, but also seen, and touched.

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life.”

1 John 1:1 (KJV)

Notice that John says that the Word of life was heard, and seen, and looked upon, and handled. The Lord was there—there on the road, there in the boat, there on the mountain, there on the cross. But when they came to the tomb, He had been there, but was no longer there.

So in the Incarnation, the Word was heard, but also seen, and handled. And this meant that when the Word of the Father was seen, the Father Himself was seen. As Jesus once put it to Philip:

“Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?”

John 14:9 (KJV)

What conclusion can we draw, other than that he who has seen the baby has seen the Father? Remember that the baby is the Son of the Highest (Luke 1:32). He is the heir of David’s throne (Luke 1:32), and He was born in the city of David (Luke 2:11)—likely born within a bow shot of where David himself was born. He was the Christ, the Messiah, the anointed one—Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11).

So consider again the connection to our faith. Remember that faith is the natural response to seeing the faithfulness of God in His fulfillment of His promises.

“For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.”

2 Corinthians 1:20 (KJV)

So here is where I want to bring you. This is the message I would deliver to you now. Hear now the Word.

The faithfulness of God is seen in His fulfillment of all His promises, and He has done that in Christ. In Christ, every promise is yes, and every promise amen. So look to Him.

Your faith will never grow if you spend all your time looking at how little your faith is. No, you must turn your gaze to how little this baby is. When you see how little the baby is, you will then—and only then—see how great the Father is.

The cosmos was spoken into existence by the Word of the Father. And God said, Let there be light. Notice that it was the Word. God said, “Let there be light.” And as the Father spoke the heavens and earth into shape over the course of six ordinary days, who exactly was that participle, that living Word? Apart from Him, nothing that has been made was made (John 1:3). Through the Son, God made the worlds (Heb. 1:2). By Him all things were created (Col. 1:16). And what was the scope of this cosmos, His great masterpiece? It would take us many lifetimes just to get from one star to the next one, and yet our own small galaxy contains billions of stars. In addition to all that, there are likely trillions of galaxies—and so if the Hubble telescope can see it, then the Word created it.

But the Word of this Father is also a miniaturist. If you were able to descend to observe an archetypical electron, you should not be surprised to find the Lord’s Prayer inscribed on the side of it. After all, each living cell contains a library of information. This Word, this magnificent Word—for us men and for our salvation—became a single microscopic cell in the womb of His mother.

And when he came into this world, where Mary and Joseph could see Him, along with the oxen, and the shepherds, what they saw in effect was the Father. In this contingent reality, where we all live, we were privileged to see the Father on other side of the great divide, the one who is the uncreated and ultimate source of all things.

There are two realities—the uncreated and the created. There is an infinite divide between them, and on this side of that divide we languish. In this condition, God has put eternity into our sinful and finite hearts (Ecc. 3:11), which is why we cannot find out the work of God. But at least we know something of what we do not know. We are consequently foundationally restless, and apart from His intervention, apart from His grace, we would be trapped in that futile restlessness forever.

But that infinite divide was forever crossed when the Word became flesh in order to pitch a tent among us, here with us in our wilderness wandering. Born of a virgin, born to die. Not only that, but born to live forever as our elder brother.

And because of that, the promise is fulfilled, and because we have seen the promise fulfilled, and heard the declaration of that fulfillment, our faith, like the baby Jesus, is born to live forever.

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen. 

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And Famously Wrapped in Swaddling Clothes | Blog & Mablog – Reformed faith salsa style

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3 years ago

Thank you for this lovely piece! And MERRY CHRISTMAS to you, your family and the entire Mablog team. Thanks to ALL of you for all you do to bless those of us you do not know!

Bud Blythe
Bud Blythe
3 years ago
Reply to  Melody

I would like to add my amen to your comment.
My family and I have been blessed by your ministy. Our gracious LORD led me to Credenda Agenda in 1992.