“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities- all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:15-17)
Today is CHRISTmas, the day that CHRISTians around the world celebrate the wondrous birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. Hallelujah!
Most birthdays are celebrated on the anniversary of the day when the birth occurred, but the Bible does not reveal the actual date when the baby Jesus came into this world. I am glad we picked a day to celebrate anyway because it is definitely a birth worth celebrating. And my proposal is that we expand the celebration to include another birth: the first birth of the Son of God that took place long before He was born again and laid in a manger.
All of us who trust the divine integrity of the Bible know that Christ existed before He was born of the virgin named Mary. Philippians 2 reveals how He was in the form of God, but humbled Himself to take on the form of a servant and the likeness of man. John 1 expands upon the Genesis 1 description of creation, revealing that God created everything through the Word, who was with God, and who was God, and who became flesh and lived among us.
We also know that Christ was already the Son of God before His birth in Bethlehem. Multiple scriptures tell us how the Father sent His Son to us. (Romans 8:3; 1 John 4:9-10) Since God inhabits eternity as the great “I AM”, without beginning or end, this leaves us with the staggering question of when the Father first birthed or “begat” His Son. (Exodus 3:14; Isaiah 57:15)
Orthodox Trinitarian Christianity has concluded from the whole of scripture that both the Father and the Son of God have coexisted in love throughout eternity, and my puny intellect is not about to challenge that.
At the same time, we must recognize that the relationship of father and son is a parent-child relationship, which fundamentally involves some type of birthing, “begetting” or coming forth. The Bible says God sent His “only begotten” Son to us. (John 1:14, 18 and 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9) And Colossians 1:15, set forth at the outset of this Christmas column, calls Jesus “the firstborn of all creation”. What could that possibly mean?
We tread on very holy ground in discussing these matters, and can at best only know in part. (1 Corinthians 13:9, 12) But I believe Colossians 1 and John 1 combine to provide us a picture of the most glorious birth ever! At some point in the timelessness of eternity, the Eternal Father brought forth the Eternal Son, and through this the Father called all of creation into existence for His beloved Son.
Imagine for a moment the vastness of creation. We live as small people on a seemingly huge planet, but Earth is really just one small planet orbiting a sun that is one star in a galaxy of billions of stars. And our galaxy is just one of billions of galaxies. Yet all of this was created through and for Christ, the only begotten Son. It was a birth of glory, power and magnitude far beyond our comprehension.
Why do I bring such a mind-boggling topic up on Christmas Day? There are two reasons.
First, we can better understand the wonder of Christmas when we remember more clearly who Christ was before Bethlehem. The vastness and power of His first birth provide a vivid contrast to the humble setting where the Son of God was born again in a stable – laid in a little box used to feed livestock by a teenage mother whose people were in bondage. As Mark Lowry so poignantly sings, when Mary kissed her little baby, she kissed the face of God!
Second, we can better understand our own two births as Christians.
Our first birth, our so-called natural birth, is made possible by the first birth of God’s Son. We are part of creation, fearfully and wonderfully knit together by God in our mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13-14)
This first birth is amazing, but it is also humble like the second birth of Christ. We may have been laid in a bassinette rather than a manger, but we were each a small, vulnerable and mortal infant.
Our second birth is made possible by the second birth of God’s Son. Because He came humbly as the Lamb of God, we can by faith in Him be “born again” – born of the Spirit, born of God! (John 1:12-13 and 3:3-7; 1 Peter 1:23) The Christ through whom all creation was made now lives inside us! (Colossians 1:27) Like the first birth of Christ, our second birth is a birth of glory, power and magnitude beyond what we have comprehended. (1 John 4:4; Ephesians 3:20)
As I treasure and ponder these things in my heart, all I can do is shout, “Glory to God in the highest!” (Luke 2:13-20) Glory to God!
Merry Christmas to you and to all our community!