Originally scheduled for December 22
The annual Christmas pageant at our former
church had an unusual feature that year. It was unusual because of
its absence, not its presence. The traditional Christmas pageant
usually has somebody playing the part of Joseph. He gets to wear a
bathrobe and if lucky lead a donkey. He rarely gets a speaking part.
This year, however, Joseph was completely missing. Why? It seems
that our new minister decided that a single, unmarried Mary would be
much more attractive to young women than a married Mary on a donkey
led by Joseph.
There is no denying, however, that Mary has a
much more significant role than Joseph. If for nothing else than the
fact that she bore Jesus. Ladies, we are talking about childbirth.
Childbirth in a time with no anesthetics and a significant risk of
mom dying with the baby. She is known to the Greek churches as the
theotokos - the “God bearer.” It might occur to you to ask
why Jesus just didn’t come down in a flying saucer as an adult. The
reason is the incarnation.
The incarnation — the fact that Jesus came in
the flesh like the rest of us, born in the poorest of circumstances
and the most common of methods — is of extreme importance.
The incarnation reveals what is
hinted at in the Old Testament. Like the detective explaining the
mystery at the end of the book, the incarnation explains many of the
prophecies of the Old Testament.
It prepares the way for the only
truly effective sacrifice for sins. The blood of animals cannot
atone for human sins; only human blood can do that. If Christ was
not here in bodily form, we are not forgiven.
Therefore, we are commanded to remember the
sacrifice made — a sacrifice made possible by the incarnation of
Christ through a young woman named Mary.
We must remember that this was the
plan from the very beginning. It is not something that “just
happened.” It is not something that God did because the situation
had gotten out of control. No; he planned it this way.
We must remember the price that was
paid. The human Jesus suffered in great pain for this; the divine
Son of God suffered separation from God the Father.
We must remember the greatness of the
God who did this. His sacrifice was made so that any of us might
receive salvation. Any of us — no matter who.