The ‘How’ of Advent

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For unto us a child is born, unto 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.  (Isaiah 9:6)

This is the second installment in our Advent Devotional Series; on Monday we looked at the “Why” of Advent; today we will see the “How” of Advent revealed in today’s verse; on Friday we will behold the “Who” of Advent.

At first glance, this verse might seem to contain an unnecessary repetition of the same idea: “a child is born . . . a son is given.” But make no mistake, 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, as Adam and Eve stood trembling with fear before God, clad in the flimsy fig leaves of their own self-righteousness, God told the serpent 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 [seed] and hers [Seed]. (Genesis 3:15)

In spite of Adam and Eve’s dreadful act of cosmic treason in the Garden, God graciously, lovingly chased down those rebels on the run . . . not to punish them, but to promise 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. (Galatians 4:4)

Just as any child was “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 the second person of the Trinity—the Son of God—and did not originate from a human man. It was a virgin conception and 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. (Luke 2:8-12)

In His humanity, Jesus Christ was indeed a child born. But as the second person of the Trinity, God’s only Son, He was not born, but given as the Savior of the world, begotten of His Father from eternity past.

A voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love;
with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)

The “prince of preachers” from the 19th century, Charles Spurgeon, beautifully captured the essence of this truth:

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 . . . and He was given that you and I might have life in Him for all eternity.

On Friday, we will lift the eyes of our hearts to the glorious “Who” of Advent.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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