Dr. C. S. Lovett’s
MARANATHA FAMILY NEWSLETTER
Painting copyright © 1975 by L. Lovett
THE BEST GIFT EVER
At this time of the year, you can drive in the different neighborhoods and find manger scenes in people’s front yards. In the manger is a little figure of Jesus all wrapped in swaddling clothes. If you were to stop for a look at the scene and pause in front of the stall, some mysterious questions could move across your spirit.
How is it possible that the helpless infant born to Mary is the eternal God? How is it possible the Creator of heaven and earth is inside that little body born in a stable? Has this question ever crossed your mind? I am sure it has. No doubt it comes to your mind every time you hear or read the account of Jesus’ birth. Hasn’t this question ever surfaced in your mind?
Let us say you are shopping for a gift for a friend. Finally, you find something nice. So you ask the clerk, “Could you gift wrap this for me? It’s for a dear friend, and I want it to look nice.” Nothing wrong with that. We want our gifts to be exciting from the outside as well as on the inside of the package. So gift wrapping is an important feature in the better stores. In some cases, the wrapping is as important as the gift and might cost just as much.
NOT THE CASE
That was not the case when God sent His gift into the world. For when salvation was made available to men, it came gift-wrapped in a human body. If you had been in Bethlehem that night, you would have been shocked the way God’s gift arrived in the world. When salvation came into the world, gift-wrapped in the body of an infant boy in a cattle shelter, it was not very glamorous as one might expect.
When you looked down at Him, He seemed no different as any other baby. He cried when he was hungry and had to have diaper changes (or what served as diapers then). His little arms trembled when he tried to use them. He looked at you with the same empty eyes as any newborn. That is because there is nothing behind those eyes. Nothing had been put there—yet.
As you look at Him, Paul’s words add to the wonder: “For by Him all things were created in heaven and earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, powers or rulers, or authorities: all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Col. 1:15,17). You see the baby and shake your head in amazement. ‘How can this possibly be?’ You ask yourself. ‘I’m looking at a tiny baby Whom Scripture says created all things, including me.’
You can see why we would want to take up such a question, especially this time of year. It is a question that rises in the minds of many, triggered by all the manger scenes. Now here is another question for you. Did baby Jesus know He was God? Of course not, He did not know anything. Like the rest of us, He was born with a blank mind. His mind is like a blank CD. He could not think or talk. He had to grow up like anyone else, says Luke 2:52.
But how could Jesus come into the world a helpless infant and still be the Almighty God at the same time? This is one of the most fascinating mysteries of the Word. This is what the apostle Paul calls The mystery of Christ, and he explains it by saying that Jesus stripped Himself. That is the word Paul uses, “Stripped.” He says that in order to become God’s gift to us, Jesus divested Himself of all His divine privileges. How? By becoming a human being. Here is the way the Phillips translation puts it: “For he, who had always been God by nature, did not cling to his prerogatives as God’s equal, but stripped himself of all privilege by consenting to be a slave by nature and being born as mortal man” (Phil. 2:6).
The instant Jesus allowed Himself to be placed in that embryo in Mary’s body, He limited himself to the capacities of the body that would emerge from her womb. He was still God. There is no way to change that. Deity is NOT an attribute: Deity is a person. Someone IS the Deity. Only one person is the Deity. Jesus could not strip Himself of Deity, for then He would cease to exist. In a human body, His majesty and might were no longer available to Him. Cut off from both is what makes Him like us, exactly the same situation we are in when we emerged from the womb.
HOW CAN THAT BE?
God is omnipresent. All scholars agree this is an attribute of God. The omnipresent God was present to that body in the manger. He was everywhere else in power, but inside that human wrapping—He was like us in every respect.
Hebrews 2:17 reads, “For this reason He had to be made like His brothers in every way.” The God Who was present to the infant body, was limited to the BRAIN that came with it! Therefore, He started off His earthly life with His brain blank. He had to learn everything. He had to be taught. That is why He had to “grow in wisdom and knowledge” (Luke 2:52).
Jesus could not know Who He was except He learned it from the Scriptures with the Spirit coaching Him, the same as He coaches us. He also learned from whatever His mother told Him. By the time he was twelve, He was picking up clues fast. Even at that tender age, He astounded the Jewish doctors of the law with His insights (Luke 2:41).
TRUTH—A LONG TIME COMING
He worked for 30 years in His dad’s carpenter shop in Nazareth. We can only guess at the thoughts that would race through His mind when he first began to suspect He had some connection with God. The day finally came when Jesus learned His true identity. His human spirit must have struggled within Him as He began to sense He was more than a Carpenter. No small thing for a man to think he might the Messiah. Whatever Jesus’ suspicions regarding Himself might have been, the confirmation came when He was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan (Luke 3:21-22).
As Jesus was coming up out of the water, the heavens opened and a voice from heaven (the omnipresent God) spoke, “You are my beloved Son, Whom I love; with You I am well pleased.” What a moment for Jesus. He now knew Who He was. “You are My Son!” This was a man hearing this. What awesome knowledge to lay on a man. He was God’s Son. The Carpenter of Nazareth was God in human wrapping.
COULD A MAN LIKE US HANDLE THIS KIND OF KNOWLEDGE?
So Jesus was led of the Spirit (as a man) into the wilderness to be tested. He also needed time away from everything to adjust to the news of Who He really was. He prayed, He fasted—AS A MAN. His mind went through the Scriptures again, this time seeing Himself as the fulfillment of prophecies of the Messiah. Bear in mind Jesus was operating with a human brain. It took a little while to reconcile Himself to the fact that He was the Son of God—actually 40 days. He had to digest this knowledge.
THEN CAME THE TEST
Satan was permitted to try His wiles on Jesus, offering suggestions that would definitely tempt someone who just found out He was the Son of God, and He was hungry. He had not had any food for 30 days. The devil’s strategy is seen in his words, “If you’re the Son of God . . .” Remember, God said He was. Satan is always trying to get us to question God’s Word and His promises. So Satan tried it on Jesus, but it did not work. Jesus passed the test and was then ready to be introduced to Israel as the Messiah. John the Baptist made the introduction. Still there was no fanfare, no trumpets, no pomp, or glory befitting a mighty king because He was not presented as the deliverer of the Jews from Roman domination, but as the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
The crowds were not impressed. Who wants a Lamb? We want a king! How could a Carpenter be the Messiah? Behind it all was the fact they did not want a dying Savior; they wanted a glorious king—not a SACRAFICIAL LAMB. The Jews were not the only ones to stumble over Jesus’ human wrapping. Most of the world today has stumbled over Him ever since. But not all. Some, including ourselves, have accepted the fact that God’s gift came in the form of the Carpenter of Galilee. But the bulk of humankind has a terrible time accepting Jesus as God. They cannot believe the eternal God could possibly come and dwell among us in such a humble package that He would enter this world as an ordinary man, and not as a KING!
The Scriptures insist Jesus is made just like us, “tempted in all points as we are” (Heb. 4:15). Yet He did not sin. The reason is that Person inside that body was NOT a sinner. He was tempted in all the ways we are, yet never once yielded to the temptations. What a MAN!
This is the Man we receive when we say, “Lord Jesus, come into my heart.” Once we receive Christ into our hearts, God’s gift is then wrapped IN US. Since He is still giving, He does it through us. When we exercise our gifts that He gives us, we are a blessing to others. They are receiving gift-wrapped blessings, and they are wrapped in us!
C. S. LOVETT
Copyright © 2021 Personal Christianity.
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