This is the third of four messages in our Advent devotional series, which will lead us up to Christmas Day. My hope and prayer is that you and I might experience afresh the passion and power of waiting on God during these last few days before we celebrate Christmas.
Part I explained what Advent is in the life of the Christian. Part II presented a word of encouragement about why Christ came to earth and took on human flesh. This third installment in our series will take a brief look at the How of Advent.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
At first glance, this verse might seem to contain needless repetition of the same idea. “A child is born . . . a son is given.” But there is an incredible distinction to be made between “a child born” and “a son given.” Let’s take a look!
A Child Is Born
All the way back in the Garden of Eden, God promised that a child would be born as a descendent of the woman Eve.
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers.
In spite of Adam and Eve’s horrific act of cosmic treason, God was gracious to pursue those rebels on the run. He promised to send the solution to their sin problem: a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law.
Just as every child is born of a woman, Jesus was born of a woman too. However, there is one critical difference. The “seed” of every child born of woman belongs to a man, but the “seed” of Mary belonged to God the Holy Spirit and did not originate from a human man. It was a supernatural virgin birth, but a birth nonetheless; and in His humanity Jesus was a child born.
A Son Is Given
There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Yes, in His humanity, Jesus Christ was a child born. But as God’s only Son, He is not born, but given as the Savior to the world, begotten of His Father from eternity past.
I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.
A voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Who can fully comprehend this incredible truth? The prince of preachers, Charles Spurgeon profoundly expressed it this way:
The doctrine of the eternal affiliation of Christ is to be received as an undoubted truth of our holy religion. But as to any explanation of it, no man should venture thereon, for it remaineth among the deep things of God—one of those solemn mysteries indeed, into which the angels dare not look nor do they desire to pry into it—a mystery which we must not attempt to fathom, for it is utterly beyond the grasp of any finite being.
As well might a gnat seek to drink in the ocean, as a finite creature to comprehend the Eternal God. A God whom we could understand would be no God. If we could grasp him he could not be infinite, if we could understand him, then were he not divine. Jesus Christ then, I say, as a Son, is not born to us, but given. He was not born in this world as God’s Son, but he was sent, or given, so that you clearly perceive that the distinction is a suggestive one, and conveys much good truth to us. “Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.”
Knowing that “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever” (Deuteronomy 29:29), we can receive this truth of the How of Advent: that a child was truly born . . . and a Son was given for you and me. And if we have received this truth by grace through faith, we can be certain that it has been done “unto us” . . . and that, dear reader, truly is good news of great joy!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!