CHRISTMAS IS GOD VISIBLE

J. Grant Swank, Jr.

There are those who do not believe in Christmas. They say they cannot bring themselves to hold to a fanciful story about a baby Jesus being God. How could it be? It does not make sense.

Only the Pollyanna duped would look at an infant in a cow’s trough to conclude that that tiny specimen was deity. Surely God could not bring Himself to that.

Such persons have been labeled by various tags: agnostics, atheists, adherents of other religions, theological liberals, skeptics of religious faith and the like.

Understanding that the Christmas story is far from reasonable according to the world’s logic, nevertheless I believe in the Bethlehem Baby as God. I believe this for it is consistent with the deity of the Old Testament.

For instance, the Bible’s invisible God appears to delight in revealing Himself visibly. He cannot do this in full scope to mortal’s eyes for His splendor would burn out our retinas. Our eyes are in spiritually fallen bodies; therefore, our visual equipment is inadequate to absorb the divine glory entirely. Our sockets would hold burnt out retinas if we were to attempt to see the wholeness of God’s wonder.

Therefore, in graciousness toward us, He does not make Himself totally visible until we are equipped with the perfect bodies (and perfect visual equipment) for eternity.

Nevertheless, God still does attempt to give us sneak previews of Himself. It is evidence of His longing to be with us ultimately in eternity when we can see Him, not through a glass darkly, but face to Face. How earnest is His love to take us finally to Himself forever.

In the meantime, God comes to us partially:

Old Testament visibilities of God include the Lord appearing to Abraham and Sarah at lunchtime, staying for the meal. It must have been an awesome experience for that couple to play host and hostess to God.

Another account is of His fiery burning bush revelation before Moses. Moses looked up to witness the goings-away of God Himself.

On other occasions, God showed Himself each year in the autumn season to the High Priest. God was in the holy flame above the Ark of the Covenant housed in the Holy of Holies.

Still at another time, God presented Himself as the fourth Person in the fiery furnace when three Hebrew believers were cast alive into the pagan’s oven.

These are minor visibilities of deity. Yet they relate a personal God who yearns to come near us. Knowing that our present state prohibits a full-blown visibility, He adapts Himself to the temporary separation.

Further, anxious to make Himself visible, God spoke through Old Testament preachers predicting His incarnate visibility in human form. This was yet another indication of His anticipation for the ultimate embrace with his children.

Eventually, in the fullness of time, the day came. It happened in Bethlehem. Mary was the vessel. Joseph was the caretaker. Cows were the onlookers. Pigeons were cradle tenders. Shepherds were nursery workers.

The invisible God made Himself visible in a Baby.

Human retinas could take Him in without being burnt. Human arms could hug Him. Human hearts could love Him.

It was the Eternal made earthly. It was the Forever made fathomable.

How can this then be believed as history? How can a reasonable person of this world take this in as fact?

Because it is consistent with deity who had revealed Himself in the years previous to the Bethlehem Babe. The divine One had made Himself visible in the minor occurrences: mealtime with host and hostess, burning bush, holy flame, fourth Comrade in the furnace. Now, in His consistency, He lodged His major earthly visibility in a human being reaching up from the straw.

Understanding this, it then would be inconsistent of deity to do anything other than reveal Himself in a zenith visibility proper for the frail human body. If not becoming incarnate, He would have shown Himself to be either incomplete or less than compassionately powerful.

However, Christmas displays the completeness of the redemption plan in all its heavenly love. Compassion had come to earth. Salvation had been messaged to humankind. Visible Jesus displayed the invisible God.

The entire pageant of Old Testament tellings then wrapped itself up in the swaddling clothes of humility and holiness. That innocent Infant lifted up His hands to take us in.

By faith we still see Him and give praise with angels’ chorus: “Glory to God in the highest. . .”

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