A little something different today because, after all, it is Christmas Eve.
READ: Read the following verses and then read Matthew 1:18-2:6 & Luke 2:1-20
“So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” – Genesis 3:14-15
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” – Micah 5:2
“I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.” – Numbers 24:17
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (God with us).” – Isaiah 7:14
“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.’ Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” – Isaiah 9:6-7
“Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot – yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.” Isaiah 11:1
THINK: It is so easy – even when we don’t mean to – to get distracted by the busyness of the Christmas season to the point where we don’t stop and allow the reality of what we are celebrating to overwhelm us. And it’s easy – even in the moments that we spend focusing on the Biblical narrative and the “reason for the season” to gloss over and not think deeply because the story is so incredibly familiar to us. But we should be overwhelmed! Because the entire Bible – the entire history of the human race on this planet – was a roadmap leading to the moment that God came down and took on flesh for us. And it is amazing!
God became man. The eternal God of the universe became incarnate in human flesh – and he didn’t come as an adult and he didn’t come as a strong warrior or a rich king, born in splendor and proclaimed to the world. He came humbly. As a baby. In a barn. He emptied himself so that he could fill humanity up. And if that fact – if the fact that God could have come in any way and he could have chosen to be born into any situation and he chose to come as a baby with no place to sleep but a manger isn’t staggering enough – check this out: There are 456 prophecies in the Old Testament about Jesus. Most all of them were written well over 700 years before he was born, many of them over a thousand years. If we stop at this point in the story…right as Jesus was born, where he was born, and how he was born…if we stop right here and pretend that he didn’t go on to fulfill every single one of those 456 prophecies – which he did – we can calculate the mathematical probability of him fulfilling the handful of prophecies about his birth. First, to even begin this calculation, you have to throw out the prophecy that a virgin would give birth to a son. That’s in there. But the mathematical likelihood is zero chance. Toss that one out, if you take 8 of the main birth prophecies in the Old Testament and do the math, this is approximately what you come up with according to a study by secular mathematicians at the University of Newcastle in England:
The likelihood that one baby could fulfill all 8 of those prophecies at once – in the year 0 AD – is 1 in 10 to the 17th power. That is the number 1 with 17 zeroes after it. 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. A half-dead horse with 3 legs would get better odds than that at the Kentucky Derby. Much better! Think of it this way: if you took 10 tickets, marked one with a sharpie, tossed them in a hat and stirred them around, and then had someone pick one ticket out of the hat – she would have a 1 in 10 chance of picking the marked ticket. Right? Well, if you took 10 to the 17th power silver dollars, and marked one with a sharpie, they would cover the entire state of Texas 2 feet deep. If you then stirred them all up, blindfolded a guy, and told him he could wade as far as he wanted but he could only reach down and pick up 1 coin, the chances that he would wander through Texas, reach into the pile, and pull out the single coin that had been marked are roughly the same as the chances that a baby could possibly be born and fulfill all 8 of those Old Testament prophecies written centuries before.
Yep. It’s ridiculously cool. This story of Christmas – of Jesus being born in that borrowed stable on a starlit night 2,000 years ago is the greatest and most compelling narrative ever written. It’s impossible yet true, it’s gripping, fascinating, and radically life-altering when we stop and actually dig into it – when we refuse to just gloss over it and turn off our brains because we’ve heard it so many times. So, do that this Christmas. Just dwell in the story. Let the truth and the absolute splendor of the events of that night wash over you and overwhelm you. Be amazed because this is amazing stuff. And then, be like the shepherds. They were so amazed that they told everybody about what happened.
PRAY: Thank God today! Let the enormity of the incarnation – God taking on human flesh – humble you and make you feel small. And then thank him for loving someone as small as you enough to come.