From before time began, it was always the intent of the second person of the Triune Godhead to step out of eternity past, into humanity’s present. Genesis 3:15 provides the first glimpse of what was to come.
I will put enmity between you (Satan) and the woman, Between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise Him on the heel.
The “seed of the woman”. Hmmm. What could that mean? It would be 3,300 years before an answer would be given.
Isaiah 7:14 says: Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold a virgin will be with child and bear a son, And she will call His name Immanuel.
Returning recently from a trip to Israel, one thing is painfully evident. Mankind wants to worship something tangible, something created to touch and feel. Everywhere you turn in the land where Yeshua once trod, people have erected magnificent churches on the sites where the events of His life are said to have occurred. Within a hundred years or so of Jesus’ ascension back to heaven, traditions began taking root concerning these sites.
Traditions of Men
Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, made a lengthy pilgrimage to Israel between 326 and 328 A.D. to see for herself the sites associated with the life of Jesus. Identifying strongly with some of the early traditions concerning these locations, Helena commissioned the building of great Byzantine Cathedrals at a number of the sites. Two of these are best known. They are the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (Jerusalem) and the Church of the Nativity, in Bethlehem.
Personally speaking, upon entering these magnificent structures my senses are overwhelmed. Incense permeates the air, chants and prayers are lofted high, people lay prostrate in ecstasy before stones on the floor. Long lines snake through the structures to the entrance of shrines for a chance to glimpse at and touch the very place they are told an important event in Yeshua’s life occurred. Priests, of competing brands of the various orthodox denominations, await their scheduled daily control of the site.
As much as I hate to admit this, I guess this desire to touch the reported location of these events is only natural. After all, God commanded Israel to erect standing stones to commemorate His victories through the people of Israel. That is why Yeshua came in the first place, to give the Jews and all of mankind a tangible, touchable, knowledge of God. But so often, we take what God intended for great good and allow the enemy to turn it into more than it should be. Rather than being an important object lesson, the traditions themselves have become a form of idolatry. It is hard for me to watch what the traditions of men have made the simple story of Jesus’s life.
Some two thousand years following Yeshua’s first appearing, no one can say for sure what day (or even the month) that God became man in Bethlehem. There are lots of theories about these things. But that is what they are. And yet, December 25th has become the day associated by most of Christendom as the date on which Yeshua sprang forth from Mary’s womb to be worshipped by His mother, step father, and the shepherds. Today it is hard to separate the myths from reality. The biblical misconceptions of the truly miraculous life of Yeshua have covered what God has to say about giving His only begotten Son to humanity. The myths obscure God’s intended message.
Let me be honest, I struggle with this whole Christmas thing. This season is so laden with unrealistic external expectations that those of us who wrestle with the impressions of joyous people everywhere that we just want December 26th to come quickly. For me, this is a personal battle waged every year at this time. What I need to do is allow my Living Savior to work through me during this season in such a way that my life points to the reality that all humanity must come to grips with. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. That is really what remembering Yeshua’s birth is all about. He was born to die for sin according to the Scriptures, be buried, and to rise again on the third day according to the Scriptures. See 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.
What Is Real?
Today, Yeshua sits at the right hand of His Father, interceding on behalf of all who have placed their faith in His atoning work on the cross, in the grave, and now in the sky. Make no mistake. Jesus returned to heaven as something other than He was before He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb. He is still the God / Man. An intermediary priest has always had to be human. When Jesus returned to heaven, it was necessary that he returns as the only perfect man ever to live. If he did not retain His humanity he could not operate as a priest after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:1-28).
No one can touch where He is today. That’s a good thing. because what humanity touches today most often is defiled, making it of no value to anyone. It becomes an idol that takes the place of something God intended for good.
Keep this in mind as you remember the day God became man.