The Paradoxical Infant

1 Timothy 3:16

Billions of births have happened in the long course of human history. One, however, was unlike all others—the birth of the Man who was, and is, God. Concerning this birth the Apostle Paul uses the Greek word, musterion, meaning “a mystery.” “Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body” (1 Timothy 3:16). But the word means more than just a mystery; translated, it means a mystery that is solved, a secret that is open to those who believe in Jesus Christ.

There are many profound paradoxes having to do with the birth of Jesus, four of them about which we may think with profit.

So Young and Yet So Old. Our Lord did not begin in “the city of David.” His existence did not originate in a manger. Had we been present to watch Mary deliver her firstborn we might reasonably have assumed that we were witnessing the genesis of Jesus. But that assumption would have been wrong. The fact is that Jesus never had an origin, and the Bible states this clearly both in the Old and the New Testaments. The prophet Micah (5:2) declares, “But you, Bethlehem… out of you will come for me one… whose origins are from old, from ancient times.”

So Poor and Yet So Rich. The New Testament makes no attempt to disguise the fact that Jesus was poor. He belonged to a peasant family. He elected to associate Himself with the “have-nots” rather than the “haves.” It is not through His riches that we become rich, but by His poverty.

So Small and Yet so Great. It takes the breath away to think that the Lord of 30-trillion galaxies and constellations became the size of a tiny infant in order to enter the human race. But tiny as He was, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). The Infinite became the infinitesimal while remaining the Infinite!

So Mute and Yet So Articulate. Here is an infant that is unable to say a single word. And yet John the evangelist says that “the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (John 1:14). The divine being who named the myriad stars is incapable of articulating even the name of His mother.

Now, however, the words of Jesus have been translated into every human tongue. They have been studied in every age since they were uttered. They have meant more to humanity than all the words ever spoken by all the rest of humanity put together.

These four paradoxes leap out of the Incarnation: so young and so old, so poor and so rich, so small and yet so great, so silent and yet so articulate.

Arnold Brown, Occupied Manger, Unoccupied Tomb


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