Many of the unbelieving multitudes will be asking this time of year, either out loud or silently to themselves, why such a big deal is being made over Christmas and the birth of a baby in a middle-eastern manger over 2000 years ago. There are also those of the faith who themselves do not fully appreciate and comprehend the magnitude of the scope and significance of the First Advent.
Every other religion in the world, those before the birth of the Christ Child in Bethlehem and every one since then, seeks to find God and gain His acceptance and blessing, usually through performing various and sundry rites, rituals, ceremonies, works of merit or participation in the offering some sort of sacrifice on their own behalf or that of others. Like some obscure primitive South Pacific island tribal culture, many modern religionists metaphorically throw their human sacrifices into the cauldron of the volcano in an effort to appease an unknowable, angry god and win, albeit temporarily, his favor.
The chosen race of the Jewish people, the Israelites, do the same as well. For though they had entrusted to them “the oracles of God” (Romans 3:1,2) they have repeatedly tried and failed to secure a right relationship with the Living God, Jehovah, by attempting to diligently keep the Law of Moses. Judaism (and all other religions) are merely man’s futile, though at times noble and well-intentioned, attempt to reach God. Not so much in order to have an intimate relationship with a good and loving Heavenly Father, as to stave off His wrath, while perhaps earning a modicum of His favor.
Jesus, however, invaded our human condition which was infected with the disease of sin, in order to make provision for us having a healthy, genuine, lasting relationship with the Father, one based on grace through faith which comes wholly as a gift undeserved and without us being able to earn it or forfeit it. (Ephesians 2:8,9) Jesus is God, the great I AM, in love reaching down to us in our fallen, sin-diseased condition to bring healing, a restoration of His original design of a healthy, vibrant, living relationship with our very relation-centric Creator. (John 3:14-16)
We are all, every last one of us humankind, infected with the insidious disease of the corrupted self which is euphemistically known as sin. Sin is endemic to the race. It is systemic to the individual. Sin is incurable and inevitably terminal 100% of the time. All of humanity throughout the ages has died or will die, many in a slow, agonizing fashion in a myriad of ways which can defy even the most morbid of imaginations. There is no cure for this malady, this pandemic of the populace. Or, should I say there was no cure, until the appearance of a tiny, helpless baby on “that endress night” so long ago.
Medical researchers and epidemiologists, in order to find a cure for an heretofore incurable disease, need to locate a host who is naturally immune to the pathogen and who has the necessary antibodies in themselves to stop the disease and kill it. One could accurately say “the cure is in the blood!”
A few years ago a movie came out which uses intentional typology to beautifully illustrate this truth. This science fiction film was called “I Am Legend” and starred Will Smith as the intrepid military physician, Col. Robert Neville, who as one of the few remaining survivors of a mutant virus responsible for the death of millions of human beings around the globe (but not before they turned into savage, grotesque, and vile creatures), tries to singlehandedly find a cure for the earth-wide epidemic. He spends years fruitlessly trying to develop an antidote, working tirelessly in his secure underground bunker-lab. In spite of injecting and testing thousands of laboratory rats with the virus (and several of the deformed, infected human creatures too) he could not find a cure. Not until he infected himself that is, and found out that he was immune. He found the cure and the cure was “in his blood”.
This film had strong Christology woven into its message, with the disease representing sin, the deformed and dying creatures representing fallen mankind under the deadly effects of sin, and Smith’s lead character representing a type of Savior. He even lays down his life willingly in the last scene of the movie in order to assure that his blood makes it out of the lab and gets distributed and dispersed to humankind as the only cure for the disease.
That was Hollywood fantasy. But we are under an even more serious curse then the fictional creatures were in this compelling film. We suffer from a terminal, flesh-eating disease that we cannot control. Some may be able to mask its symptoms for a while (even covering them up with religiosity, proper behavior, and church related activity in some cases), but we all must succumb at last to its deforming and ultimately deadly effects. Except for the blood…You see, God knew that the only cure for our sin-sick condition was to send a host who had immunity to sin and was able to resist it, and thus pass this immunity on to all who would receive this cure “in His blood”. (Numbers 21:6-9; II Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 9:13,14)
But, another crucial requirement for a lasting cure is that the host be of the same species as those infected. So, God in His infinite wisdom, came to earth, invading the human race with the God-child. His name is “Immanuel” meaning “God with us” (or “one of us”, Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). He is the Perfect Host in whose blood alone is contained the cure for sin. He came along in lowly fashion, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin girl in a lowly manager so long ago. Only to be found in Jesus’ blood is the melding of the Spirit given DNA with the human DNA of His earthly mother necessary for our eternal and lasting antidote for sin.
Because He had to enter the human race and experience the human condition in its totality to effect a cure, it was necessary for him to come into the world crying and needy and messy just like any other baby would. But this baby was certainly unlike any other. His name was called Jesus “because it is He who will save the people from their sins”. (Matthew 1:21)
Only Jesus could do it! Only God could come up with such a remarkably effective plan as this: a little babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, birthed and lying in a lowly manger entering our world. A baby born to die that we might live (Hebrews 9:16). Bethlehem was the beginning, but Calvary’s cross was the destination. It was the only way for a loving Father to reconcile His children to Himself, removing the effect of the disease that infects them and separates us from Him; to cure our malignancy in order to enjoy a love relationship with Him forever. Jesus, I Am, is legendary. O, come let us adore Him!