Surprising and counterculture would be appropriate words to describe how God often works in this world. The Christian Church for two thousand years has believed and taught that God’s Son became incarnated in the baby Jesus. God’s Spirit made the Virgin Mary’s womb come to life. There was nothing sexual about this impregnation. God didn’t lust after Mary and copulate with her.
A Surprising Birth Announcement
In response to Mary’s faith (Luke 1:38), God became a baby in Mary’s womb through a very holy act. In the birth of Jesus, both the Lord and Mary agreed to make themselves very vulnerable to the cultural forces around them. In Mary’s world, women who gave birth outside of wedlock were treated as outcasts. Mary’s road to blessedness was not an easy one. Her sufferings would be a portent of the even greater sufferings of the One whom she gave birth.
The baby Jesus was not born in a king’s palace or in a family of worldly privilege. Instead, he was born in a manger with farm animals and was greeted by humble shepherds, who were shunned by many in Jewish society. He was raised by parents of humble means and grew up to be a Jewish carpenter. The Christian Church believes that it is this Jewish carpenter who came as God in disguise. It was he who opened the way for us to be reconciled to our Creator and to become citizens of a new world.
A Surprising New World Is Coming
Christians are described in Hebrews 6:5 as having already begun to taste the powers of the age to come. I believe this is referring to the Holy Spirit, who begins indwelling the believer’s inmost being when they trust Christ as their Lord and Savior. God’s kingdom has begun breaking into this world with the coming of the true King of creation, Jesus.
When Pilate fastened the notice of the charge for Jesus’ execution on the cross, it read: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews (John 19:19). The notice was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek (John 19:20), the three main languages of that part of the world. Pilate didn’t recognize at all, the truth of what he had written. It was so ironically true, that all the leaders of that society who were responsible for Jesus’ death, didn’t realize that they had just crucified the Lord of glory as a criminal (1Cor. 2:8).
It was this crucified Jewish carpenter who would be vindicated on that first Easter Sunday by his heavenly Father as the true King. In His resurrection, it was this “foolish” and “weak” God-man who defeated the biggest enemies of the human race: death, the devil and the evil entrenched in every human’s heart.
The Christian Gospel is all about how God has intervened in this present world through His Messiah/Christ, Jesus of Nazareth. God is beginning to make things right and to restore all things to Himself in a surprising and counterculture way, through the crucified and risen Jewish carpenter. No wonder Paul says that this was a stumbling block to the Jew and just plain foolishness to the Greek (1Cor. 1:23).
In view of God’s great mercy to us through the gift of His Son, what should our response be? The Apostle Paul tells us exactly what our response should be in Romans 12:1,2:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world (which is passing away), but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
In other words, we are to live our lives in this present world as ambassadors of our heavenly country, whose King is Jesus. As we yield to His Lordship in our lives and to His indwelling Spirit, we bear witness to the the mind and presence of Christ Jesus in this present age, which is under the control of the Evil One. We bring the Good News that the true King is Jesus and we don’t have to live under the power of the fear of death or under the guilt and power of our sin. This indeed is gospel/good news to a dying and broken world.
QOTD: Are you living according to the power and truth of King Jesus or under the powers of this present age?