(If this day happens to be the fourth Sunday in Advent, read the latter devotion in the morning and this one in the evening.)
Isaiah 52:1-12; Luke 2:1-20
O Holy Night
It’s the most special night of the year, is it not? Yes, I’m aware that in our culture that might have more to do with Santa Claus and gifts under the tree. I’m not opposed to such; my family does the same things. But for the Christian who reflects on this night, it is the most holy of all.
This chapter from Isaiah anticipates a similar account from the Book of Revelation 21:25-26: “There will be no night there … Nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” It is the beauty of heaven where God makes all things new and wipes away every tear from our eyes (21:4-5). Isaiah 52 marks the time when all is accomplished and God will have finally redeemed His people.
And this brings us to that passage that we have been waiting for all of Advent season: Luke 2. This was the night the world had been waiting for since that first sin in the Garden. This was the seed of the woman who would crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15). But he is also the Son of God wrapped in human flesh, taking upon himself our body, our mind, our will, our affections, and joining everything of our humanity to his divinity, and all for our salvation. And what is so striking is the humility of it all: a poor man and woman who have to find shelter in a stable (actually, a cave), a baby lying in an animal’s feeding trough, outcast shepherds as their first houseguests – if this happened today, someone would call the county’s welfare agency. But this was God’s will: the Son of God became a son of man, that sons of men might become sons of God. And so majesty wrapped itself in humility, and divinity in humanity. The first Adam is recapitulated in the Second Adam, and Eve in Mary. The story will be relived, not in a perfect garden, but in a sinful world. The Second Adam will have greater trials than the first ever had, greater temptations, greater struggles. But the Second Adam will conquer, for he has the Spirit without measure (John 3:34). His divine nature will give infinite worth to his human actions, especially those thirty or so years later on a cross.
This is how our God defines glory: a baby, poor parents, a manger, shepherds, and later, a scourging, a crown of thorns, and a cross. This is the humility of our God. Indeed, it’s quite humbling of God to let us live with Him for all eternity. But it does not stop there. One day we shall see Him in all His glory: the display of His divine attributes and beauty of His holiness.