Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christ's Incarnation: A Cause of Joy for Christians

...the description of the incarnation of Christ also ought to arouse in us a joyous gratitude towards God, and we ought to welcome the fact that the Lord Jesus has assumed our nature. This the angel conveyed in his message to the shepherds when he said, “I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (Luke 2:10). If our soul should rejoice in anything, it ought to rejoice in this great and wondrous work of God. To this end consider the following:

(1) It was prophesied that men would rejoice upon the Savior’s advent into the world. “They joy before Thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given” (Isa 9:3, 6); “And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation” (Isa 25:9); “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation” (Zech 9:9). Since it has been prophesied as such, and since we are living in the fulfillment of all this, we ought to lift up our souls with joy and thanksgiving.

(2) Consider the longing of the saints for the coming of Christ in the flesh. After Eve had given birth to her first son, it appears that she was of the opinion that the promise had been immediately fulfilled, for she said, “I have gotten a man from the Lord” (Gen 4:1). The Lord Jesus said concerning Abraham, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day” (John 8:56). David gave expression to his desire when he said, “For this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although He make it not to grow” (2 Sam 23:5). This desire was also present in the God-fearing kings and prophets. “For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see” (Luke 10:24). Yes, all the saints of the Old Testament longed for this. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them” (Heb 11:13). What joy they would have manifested if they had seen the Lord Jesus in the flesh! We may experience the fulfillment of this. Therefore it behooves us to rejoice and to thank the Lord for this most precious gift, for such a dear and precious Savior.

(3) When Christ came into the world, heaven and earth were filled with joy. John the Baptist leaped for joy in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:44). Mary sang a doxology, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour” (Luke 1:46-47). The tongue of a dumb Zacharias broke loose, exclaiming, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited and redeemed His people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David” (Luke 1:68-69). Old Simeon took the child in his arms, praised God, and exclaimed, “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation” (Luke 2:29-30). Come, join and rejoice with them. Will your heart always be heavy-laden? Would you not rejoice for once? And if your heart would rejoice, what could be more motivating than the incarnation of Christ? Therefore, “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice” (Phil 4:4).

However, someone may possibly say, “My heart remains in bondage; I cannot rejoice in this, for I fear that He was not born for me anyway, and that I am not a partaker of all this.” I respond to this by saying that:

(1) This is merely a fear, for you are also not assured that the contrary is true;

(2) This is not the only problem. The reason one does not rejoice in the incarnation is for lack of holy meditation upon the subject, its miraculous nature, the promises, the Person, the fruits, and this great salvation brought about by His suffering and death. What reason for rejoicing would he who does not attentively reflect upon this have?

(3) Since there is such a Savior, however, can it be a matter of indifference to you whether or not there is such a Savior? If you are not indifferent to this, why do you not rejoice over His coming into the world, even if you still are no partaker of Him?

(4) You who yearn for Jesus, however, in order to be justified and sanctified by Him, even if it is accompanied by much darkness, fear, anxiety, and concern (John 6:40); you, in whose heart Jesus dwells by faith, so that your desires are repeatedly drawn towards Him (Eph 3:17); you, in whom Jesus has been formed (Gal 4:19) and in whom Jesus lives (Gal 2:20), so that He is all your joy and desire, generating within you a hatred towards sin, a desire to walk as He walked, and perceiving within you a battle between spirit and flesh; you, who love Jesus (1 John 4:19)—you have reason to be assured that He has been born for you. Therefore you have double reason to rejoice with delightful and unspeakable joy, and to jubilate concerning the coming of the Lord Jesus in the flesh.

Source: Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian's Reasonable Service, vol. 1, trans. Bartel Elshout (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1992), 514-16.


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