Wednesday, Dec. 28
I mentioned earlier that the birth of Jesus and the crucifixion and resurrection can’t exist without each other, but that’s only part of the story. The entire incarnation period is a single package. O.T. prophesies look forward to it, and the N.T. focuses on it. Christ’s ascension, the founding of the Church. the coming of the Holy Spirit, and evangelism all stem from it. The incarnation is a series of events all tied together as one package—redemption. As big as it is and as varied, I’m going to try to summarize it. Jesus’ preaching and teaching ministry had two aspects. The first was to convince the Jews that he was their Messiah with the goal that they would make up the early church and then evangelize the world. Although many believed, the majority did not—all of which led to Jesus’ crucifixion, the most crucial event of the incarnation—and a necessary part of the redemption process. After the resurrection, thousands of those Jews who had been influenced throughout Jesus’ ministry did believe. They made up the early church, just as God had planned. The second aspect of Jesus’ ministry was preparing the disciples for their role in leading the Church and in evangelizing. In the light of the birth of the Church on the Day of Pentecost and the evangelization that is recorded in Acts, both aspects of Jesus’ ministry were highly successful. The rest of the N.T. involves the Holy Spirit’s work in preparing the Church for evangelization. The early Church’s success is recorded in Acts. In a few decades the entire Roman Empire was reached with the gospel. To go along with Acts, we have all those letters to the churches that kept believers on track to build each other up so that they would be witnesses in their world. They needed teaching, guidance, rebuke, correction, and encouragement. Part of that encouragement was revealed truth concerning the future. Prophecies concerning the future appear in almost all the letters, capped by the book of Revelation. The prophecies were not merely for knowledge; they were deliberately designed to encourage the Church, especially in light of their being under severe persecution. So the incarnation is one big event that can’t be described easily. It would be like the blind men, each of whom described the elephant by feeling the tusk, the trunk, the tail, or the ear. Heb. 1:1-2 says, Jesus revealed God in a way that normal human beings—O.T. prophets—could not, even though they were divinely inspired. So Christmas is an integral part of the incarnation, but just the beginning of it.