What Child is This?

'And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?"
- Luke 1:34

Salvation to all that will is nigh;
That All, which always is all everywhere,
Which cannot sin, and yet all sins must bear,
Which cannot die, yet cannot choose but die,
Lo, faithful virgin, yields Himself to lie
In prison, in thy womb; and though He there
Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet He will wear,
Taken from thence, flesh, which death's force may try.
Ere by the spheres time was created, thou
Wast in His mind, who is thy Son and Brother;
Whom thou conceivst, conceived; yea thou art now
Thy Maker's maker, and thy Father's mother;
Thou hast light in dark, and shutst in little room,
Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb.
-John Donne (1572-1631), Annunciation

Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ by highest heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"
- Charles Wesley, Hark the Herald Angels Sing

'View Jesus in the light of God and against the dark background of sin, view Him as the satisfaction of man's deepest need, as the one who alone can lead into all glory and all truth, and you will come, despite all, to the stupendous conviction that the New Testament is true, that God walked here upon the earth, that the eternal Son, because He loved us, came into this world to die for our sins upon the cross.'
- J. Gresham Machen, The Virgin Birth of Christ, p. 381

One of the things that distinguishes biblical Christianity from other religions is its pervasive supernaturalism. Christianity is dependent upon the truth and reality of God interposing Himself into human history in ways that contravene normative, non-supernatural ways. Consider these examples: God created the world 'ex nihilo' or out of nothing, by the word of His mouth; God held back the Red Sea for the Israelites' safe passage and closed it again on the Egyptian armies; God's presence led Israel in a cloud by day and flame of fire by night; God provided food to eat for the traveling hordes of Israel; God rained fire on the pagan altars at Carmel at the prophets' request; God filled a starving widow's jar with oil for food.... Oftentimes, these miraculous events were indications of a long-awaited deliverance. We see the very same in the Gospel. It is in the Gospel that we see the apex of redemptive history made manifest in an astounding supernatural event--A virgin will bring forth a son. The Holy Spirit is the active agent in a supernatural conception and bypassing normal human conception God brings forth His Son in the womb of a virgin. This is truly an amazing story of God's supernatural intrusion into human history and this tells us several things…. God is active in the events of history, God is in control of human history, and God has a purpose for human history. Rejoice!, for immensity is cloistered in a virgin's womb. In this tiny child humanity and divinity meet. Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!


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