There are many well-known passages of scripture that make their way onto Christmas cards and into sermons this time of year. Prophesies of Isaiah and Micah foretelling the Messiah are common, and the birth of Jesus is recorded in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. While Christmas celebrates the birth of the Christ child, there’s a lot more going on than just a birthday. The incarnation is about God robing himself in flesh. Emanuel is God with us, and the New Testament has much more to say about the incarnation than it does the night it happened.
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. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15-20, ESV)
In a few short sentences the Apostle Paul has summarized Jesus as creator God, incarnate deity, and the “peacemaker” of heaven and earth. This passage goes beyond describing shepherds and angels; it explains why (and who) they were worshiping.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (Hebrews 1:1-4, ESV)
The prophets, incarnation, creation of the world, purification sacrifice and sitting down at the right hand of Majesty, all in 4 verses. This is just the beginning of Hebrews 1. The entire chapter is about the relationship of the Father and Son, and his superiority over all that has been created.
“I bring you good tidings of great joy” is an excellent verse of scripture. But there is so much more to the story of Jesus than the babe in a manger. If your idea of the Bethlehem manger has anything less than God himself lying inside, take another look. God is in the manger. That is the Christmas miracle.