The Grand Miracle

If you’ve heard a sermon on the incarnation in a conservative evangelical circle I suspect there’s a high chance the preacher quoted C.S Lewis to refer to the Son of God condescending to take on flesh as “the Grand Miracle.”

He is our patron saint, after all—despite not being one of us—so the reference is almost obligatory.

But I do wonder if we’ve actively considered what that means. We become used to the idea that God became Man and instead place our surprise on the crucifixion or, most likely, on the resurrection.

Let’s reckon with that stunning truth though—because if we truly believe that God became Man, that Jesus was and is incarnate deity, God of God, Light of Light, then the resurrection isn’t surprising, it’s obvious.

A man coming back from death is surprising, and impossible. A man walking out of the back of death is a bigger claim, and it’s preposterous. Let’s not domesticate the resurrection by suggesting we mean anything less than the latter. But the God-Man? If you killed him what exactly did you expect to happen?

He’d shown us throughout his life that when he touched the unclean he didn’t become unclean, instead it became clean (Luke 7-8). When Life touched Death did we really think anything else would happen but Death’s utter undoing? That knotted mess of a thousand toxic tendrils that gripped every person who had ever lived like a bloated spider hoarding her kill, all of it burned up from a moment’s contact with the consuming fire—with Life.

But the idea that the Creator would take on the form, and the being, of a creature? This is something else. That the incomprehensible God who is complete in everything he does would become something that could be called ‘something’, something that could lack? This is madness to the ear. That the God who is simply is, who is the source of all being, the only one who truly ‘exists’ because our existence and his really need to sit in different categories entirely (his is ultimate, ours derived)—that this one would become part of the creation? What does that even mean? That the God who has no parts, who does not change, who does not engage in flights of emotion but whose love is a burning constant stronger than time—that he would become a man?

And do all this without compromising who he is? Yahweh remains the source of being, the immortal Creator, God who never changes, constant in his justice, his wisdom, and his love. And also human.

That the Lord of Time would enter time? Step into history?

“The incarnation is like a dagger thrust into the weft of human history”

Edwyn Hoskyns

Time changed when his head crowned and the baby wailed. The earth shuddered as he learned to walk. His mother’s heart was sustained by his divine will as he suckled at her breast. This is the unthinkable arrival of the Author in the very central pages of the story.

It is too large for us.

So meditate on these truths for they change everything. When you eat your Christmas dinner perhaps spare a thought between hearing some terrible cracker jokes for this: when the divine entered the world he elevated the creation. Which means that the turkey you’re tucking into is somehow more than it was before he did. It’s tastier, even if you overcooked it and it went dry, it’s holier, even if your Christmas celebrations are just plain fun rather than overtly religious, and it’s done to the glory of God simply because you say thanks—and I don’t mean a formal prayer, but a small moue of thanks in your heart is enough to elevate what you do to a sliver of a foretaste of the age that is to come.

And more, because he gave us a meal, all tables are sanctified by the Lord’s action. There is something holy about eating together. Are all meals the body of Christ? Of course not. But because one is, the rest are lifted up.

Because the Lord walked the earth the world glimmers with his majesty, hidden though it was in the main. It still glimmers. The world groans in childbirth for the new earth she will birth (Romans 8), she knows that the Lord has changed her: heaven touched earth and she pregnant with the future.

So, meditate on these truths. But don’t be pious about it. Eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we… live.

Photo by Artem Sapegin on Unsplash

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