As Christmas approaches, I have a ritual of reading over and thinking about the nativity story (Matthew 1:18-2:23; Luke Luke 1:1-2:40). I do it every year and love it! It is such an incredible story, a real story. Here the plan of God from the foundations of world to save mankind from sin and destruction was unstoppably coming to pass. There was nothing that any king or circumstance could do to stop this baby from being born. You have to marvel at the humility of Jesus Christ in coming as a baby and how even in his birth it is the humble and poor to whom he reaches out. God became flesh, was born by a humble virgin, Mary, his birth was announced to poor shepherds out in the fields, and there was no place for this Savior to be born, except into the poorest of conditions. Thank God this humble child grew up, is alive, and still reaches out to the poor and destitute of this earth!
This morning after meditating on Matthew’s take on the virgin birth, I wanted to read what some throughout church history have said about this event. One author I read was Thomas Watson in his A Body of Divinity. He was a Puritan pastor from 1620-1686. He had this to say about Christ’s birth:
Why was Jesus Christ made flesh?
(I.) The causa prima, and impulsive cause, was free grace. It was love in God the Father to send Christ, and love in Christ that he came to be incarnate. Love was the intrinsic motive. Christ is God-man, because he is a lover of man. Christ came out of pity and indulgence to us: non merita nostra, sed misera nostra. Augustine. ‘Not our deserts, but our misery, made Christ take flesh. Christ’s taking flesh was a plot of free grace, and a pure design of love. God himself, though Almighty, was overcome with love. Christ incarnate is nothing but love covered with flesh. As Christ’s assuming our human nature was a master-piece of wisdom, so it was a monument of free grace.
(2.) Christ took our flesh upon him, that he might take our sins upon him. He was, says Luther, maximus peccator, the greatest sinner, having the weight of the sins of the whole world lying upon him. He took our flesh that he might take our sins, and so appease God’s wrath.
(3.) Christ took our flesh that he might make the human nature appear lovely to God, and the divine nature appear lovely to man.
(1:) That he might make the human nature lovely to God. Upon our fall from God, our nature became odious to him; no vermin is so odious to us as the human nature was to God. When once our virgin nature was become sinful, it was like flesh imposthumated, or running into sores, loathsome to behold. It was so odious to God that he could not endure to look upon us. Christ taking our flesh, makes this human nature appear lovely to God. As when the sun shines on the glass it casts a bright lustre, so Christ being clad with our flesh makes the human nature shine, and appear amiable in God’s eyes.