God the eternal Son became incarnate in Jesus Christ. Through Him all things were created, the character of God is revealed, the salvation of humanity is accomplished and the world is judged. Forever truly God, He became also truly human, Jesus the Christ. He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He lived and experienced temptation as a human being, but perfectly exemplified the righteousness and love of God. By His miracles He manifested God’s power and was attested as God’s promised Messiah. He suffered and died voluntarily on the cross for our sins and in our place, was raised from the dead and ascended to heaven to minister in the heavenly sanctuary in our behalf. He will come again in glory for the final deliverance of His people and the restoration of all things. (Isaiah 53:4-6; Daniel 9:25-27; Luke 1:35; John 1:1-3, 14; 5:22; 10:30; 14:1-3,9,13; Romans 6:23; 1 Corinthians 15:3,4; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 5:17-19; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:15-19; Hebrews 2:9-18; 8:1,2.)
Earlier this month, I attended a life celebration held for two siblings who had died tragically.
The sisters, aged two and five, drowned while playing outside their family home in Suva, Fiji. The incident came as a shock to their families, who never thought anything so tragic would happen to them. On the evening before the girls’ funeral, families and friends of the sisters gathered to pay their last respects.
That evening I sat with the church delegation that visited the family. We sang songs, prayed, shared and cried with them. The girls have twin brothers. It was heartbreaking to see siblings separated from each other at such a young age.
As their grandfather spoke with fond memories of his granddaughters, I noticed the expressional shifts in his voice as he shared his lived experiences of the girls. You could hear and feel the excruciating pain from this fatherly figure to the girls. Whenever he spoke of their interests, their play and their lives, the grandfather’s voice and eyes lit up, but we sensed that behind that energy was an overwhelming feeling of pain that only God knows.
The stories of the sisters’ lives made me think of the pain our Heavenly Father went through as He allowed His one and only Son to be born, to live and to die for a fallen human race. Unlike the above narrative, Jesus’ death was no accident; it was intentional, a death that had to happen to re-open heaven’s door for us.
As Adam and Eve sinned by eating from the forbidden tree, their wilful disobedience to God barred them from Eden, the very place that granted them access to the tree of life.
“Sorrow filled heaven as it was realised that man was lost and the world which God created was filled with mortals doomed to misery, sickness and death, and that there was no way of escape for the offender. The whole family of Adam must die” (Early Writings: page 125).
Ellen White describes Jesus, filled with sorrow and sympathy, approaching the heavenly throne three times to request that He be the atonement of Adam’s sin. Upon their third meeting God granted Him approval—the approval to be the ransom and to take the sentence of death for Adam’s generation. Through Him mankind would find pardon once again in the eyes of God.
I have tried to imagine the emotion God would have experienced as Jesus was born to Mary and Joseph in a manger in the little town of Bethlehem. Indeed the human race had fallen into sin and was deserving of nothing but death (Romans 3:23). However, God’s plan of salvation was bigger and better than any human imagination.
Jesus’ humble birth symbolises the beginning of mankind’s salvation. A couple who had just been married, struggling to deal with having a child conceived by the Holy Spirit.
C S Lewis described the birth of Jesus in the most delicate yet powerful way when he said, “Once in our world the stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world.”
A host of heavenly angels; the wise men from the East—magi who studied the philosophies of the world; and the humble shepherds who were faithful in taking care of their flocks even if it meant shepherding late into the night—these were the diverse groups that had a part in Jesus’ modest birth.
While the groups and individuals varied in status and background there was one common denominator: all had anticipated and prepared for the first coming of the Son of God.
The preparations for Jesus’ birth and the groups that were part of it give us a preview of what the second coming of Jesus will be like. Only a few good people will prepare for and anticipate the second coming of Jesus. This should encourage us to allow God to work on us daily, ensuring that we are ready.
During Jesus’ life on earth He placed emphasis on the importance of preparations and anticipating His second coming. “Therefore, watch and pray for you do not know the day or the hour” (Matthew 25:13).
"Oh, the yearning in God’s eyes for the sinner to return. "
Realistically, many of us have had texts like this etched in our memory for so long that we do not understand the urgency of Jesus’ message. In this text Jesus is not only telling us to watch and pray because He is coming back unannounced. He is urging us to do so because He knows that while we live and go about our daily business, the devil is also at work on his business—leading as many people as he can into sin and eternal death. Day in, day out we encounter the devil’s business—it can be addictions, lack of (or no) time with God because we are too “committed” to other things, lack of self—discipline . . . the list goes on.
Peter was aware of these predicaments that we struggle with. That’s why he reinforced the preparation message when he wrote, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Yes, the devil is out seeking and devouring and while he is at it, many of us are unprepared for Christ’s salvation, but have created pathways for the devil to find us and devour us.
As Christians we need to know and understand the life of Jesus and the incredible story of our salvation. When we become oblivious to our salvation story, we are a target for the devil.
Once we know Jesus and the reason for His existence on earth, we will understand the importance of preparing ourselves daily.
The illustrative story of the grandfather and the loss of his grandchildren is also symbolic of the pain our Heavenly Father goes through when His children are lost in sin. I can picture God reminiscing and reflecting on the good times you shared with Him, the early mornings seeking Him, the warmth of your heart towards reading the Word, accepting and obeying every truth. The spiritual journey—the highs and lows—and having the hands of God right there with you. His warm love when our hearts were broken and the gift of His only Son for our redemption.
Oh, the yearning in God’s eyes for the sinner to return. He has paid so much, gone through so much, just so that we can be saved.
This Christmas let’s take the time to reflect, not only on Jesus’ birth but on the Heavenly Father’s incredible plan of salvation, manifested through His Son Jesus. For “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3).
Kesaia Vasutoga is a social work educator at the University of the South Pacific and a member of Samoa Adventist Community Church, Fiji.