Country Pastor column: A Father sending His Son
By Les Johnson, pastor of Christ the King Lutheran Church
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16)
As I reflect on the birth of our children, I recall feelings of wonder, awe, excitement, exhilaration, thanksgiving, and so on; feelings that reminded me of the privilege and responsibility of being a father. Positive feelings that evoked joy—a joyous excitement that had been building for some nine months and now was complete as that gift of new life from God was before my eyes.
As I meditated on the birth of Jesus recently I began to think of how the birth of Christ was for His Father. He wasn't receiving His Son into His presence to be a proud and awestruck parent—He was sending His Son to a sinful world that would hate Him and reject Him! A sinful world where he would eventually become a sacrifice for our sin! A sinful world where His Son would eventually experience the separation from His Father that caused Him to cry out "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46)
Some nine months prior to the moment when Mary delivered Jesus into the world, He—God—had assumed human nature. Paul reminds us in Philippians 2, "who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." (Philippians 2:6-8) That is why Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
However, even though God the Father wasn't anticipating the joys of parenthood and raising His child in the way that I did when my children were born, He was anticipating another birth. The birth—that is rebirth—of each one who would accept Him as their Savior from sin. In time (which God does not experience as we do), God was anticipating all the children that would be born "from above" into His family again. Hebrews 2:10 reminds us that through Jesus God the Father was "bringing many sons to glory." Bringing us into a glorious relationship with Himself with the hope of an eternal life in heaven. The glory that Jesus left so that He could bring us back to God.
As you celebrate Christmas this year, remember that the "manger scene" was not all that sentimental to God the Father. It did not stand for the joy of a new child and days ahead of a joyous relationship. It stood for the pain and suffering of separation. And yet a separation that would see a reunion with His Son through Jesus' perfect obedience and ultimate resurrection from the dead. And a reunion with all who would place their faith in Jesus as Savior from sin!
"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name." (John 1:12)