"We Beheld His Glory:" A Christmas Eve Meditation
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
Because we weren’t there in Bethlehem some 2,000 years ago, everything we know about the events of our Savior’s birth comes through the eyes of others. For some … apart from seeing there is no believing … but for those of us who have come to Christ by faith, we view our Savior’s birth through the inspired writings of Matthew and Luke. And by faith, we are convinced that what the Scripture says is true …
That the child she was carrying was none other than the promised Messiah, the Son of God.
That Mary, a sinner, gave birth to an impeccable Savior.
That God, in His providence, brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem to pay their taxes … and to give birth to His Son … just as the Scriptures had promised back in Micah 5:2.
That the angels proclaimed the Savior’s birth to shepherds who were “keeping watch over their flocks by night” on the outskirts of that little town called Bethlehem.
That these common shepherds made their way through the crowded and bustling streets to a borrowed stable, where this newborn King had been laid in a feeding trough.
That upon finding Jesus, the Shepherds bowed in worship before their King, and returned to Bethlehem’s streets with word that the long promised Messiah had arrived.
These are the events surrounding Jesus’ birth. But the birth of Christ was much more than just another important historical event. This birth—the birth of Jesus Christ—was significant because it was so distinctly unique. Its uniqueness isn’t due to where or when Jesus was born—there have probably been lots of babies born in a stable … and lots of babies, like myself, have been born at night.
So what makes this birth so historically significant and unique? So unique in fact that we gather to worship Him on Christmas Eve some 2,000 years later? The Apostle John reveals the reasons Christ’s birth was so distinctively unique in John 1:14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
In Bethlehem’s borrowed stable, God took on human flesh … and dwelt among us. This is what we call the incarnation. Jesus is God with skin on (fully God and fully man, two natures in one being). And in becoming man, and enduring the same temptations and suffering we face … and doing so without sin – He is qualified to be the sacrifice for our sins … the just for the unjust … that He might bring us to God. God came to sinners so that sinners could come to Him.
In Bethlehem’s borrowed stable, God unveiled His glory so that we could understand what He is like. When Mary looked into the eyes of her newborn son, she was looking into the eyes of the eternal God. Through the life and death of Jesus, God would reveal His glory to mankind. A glory only the Son of God could reveal through His supernatural miracles, His sacrificial death, and His sin-defeating resurrection.
In Bethlehem’s borrowed stable, God revealed His grace and truth. Jesus did not come merely to teach about grace and truth, He came to show us grace and truth. He is grace. He is truth. Perfectly blended and balanced. And when the Pharisees dragged an adulterous woman to His feet, He responded with grace and truth. The humble and broken woman was at the mercy of the One who was truth … he knew everything about her. But rather than condemn her for her sin, He showed her grace, forgiving her sins with the words, “neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more.” Her hypocritical accusers, on the other hand, came face to face with the Truth, and left in shame and disgrace.
This grace and truth is evidenced in Jesus' interaction with Mary and Martha at Lazarus' tomb. When Jesus came to the tomb of His friend, He groaned within Himself and wept. That's grace. Turning to Martha, He reveals His grace and truth with these words:
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26, ESV)
And as Jesus raised His friend Lazarus from the dead, all who were present beheld His glory (John 11: 40).
Our minds return to Bethlehem’s stable this morning, where we see grace and truth embodied. Jesus was born in a common town to a common couple. His birth was announced to common shepherds who were watching common sheep on common hillsides. This is grace … He was born for common people. But His birth also speaks of His perfect truth … for when the common shepherds found Him … they bowed in worship. They knelt before “the way, the truth, and the life.”
Thirty-three years later, Pilate asked the condemned man standing before him, "What is truth?" Pilate was blinded to the fact that Truth and Grace were standing before him ... in the person of Jesus.
Condemned to die, Jesus was nailed to a cross. As the Son of God died a common criminal’s death, saving grace flowed as freely as the blood from His wounds. The innocent would die in the place of the guilty, the Savior for the sinner, bearing their sin, and absorbing the wrath of a holy God. This is grace. This is truth. Yet many who celebrate His birth have failed to recognize its significance. Bethlehem’s stable finds its significance in a bloodstained cross and an empty tomb. Jesus is the Son of God, and apart from knowing Him by faith, there is no way, there is no truth, and there is no life (John 14:6; Galatians 3:26) . Take the time to Read His Story and Behold His Glory!
I was privileged to share this meditation with our congregation at this morning's Christmas Eve service. May God grant you and your family a blessed and joyous Christmas as you behold His glory!
Grace and Peace,