How much glory was obscured in that manger? Who was this baby, that came to us in such strange circumstances?
This week I will be preaching from Matthew 17:1-13 to identify just how much Jesus was hiding. I believe that many of us drift off theologically this time of the year. We drift off into a shallow sentimentality, a comfortable traditionalism, or an unfulfilled expectation. The hype of the season never reaches what it claims it can provide. Why? Because we focus on the wrong thing. The traditions cannot provide any lasting comfort. Because we focus on the wrong thing. And no amount of sentimentality will bring us to the deep truth of the incarnation. Because we focus on the wrong thing.
Little 8 pound baby Jesus did very little. His primary function was to demonstrate God’s willingness to connect with us on our level. He came here. And he came here to progressively revealed the Father through human life – a perfect human life that ended in a perfect sacrifice for sins.
But I have been so encouraged this week in studying the Transfiguration (from Matthew 17:1-13) in light of the manger. Peter, James, and John were witness to the glory of the Son of God. And they were terrified at His glory. They fell on their faces, they stumbled over their words, and they only recovered as Jesus Himself touched them and spoke words of comfort to them.
The last thing I need is a month off each year from thinking deeply about the immense glory of the Son of God. The manger ought not to speak to us of small things. Don’t let the size of the baby fool you or lull you into thinking demur or even “silent” things about that night. The great veiling of the glory of God in flesh is not meant to cause us to think small and sentimental thoughts about a cute baby surrounded by a petting zoo.
Look to the transfiguration to see what was hidden there in that manger. What came to us? Who was born to us? A low-born king . . . and over the life of this child the apostle Paul added,
“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,“ – Colossians 1:16-17
My hope is that we all look at the nativity with different eyes this year. Look with eyes that behold the hidden glory. See in that baby the power of God, hidden for us. The power and glory of God came among us through a human life, and showed to us the ways of the Father. What a mystery that is full of glory!