In the previous several months I have covered the Commandments. Summed up by the command to love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself, the Commandments show us what holiness is. God demands perfection, but we fall short. He punishes with hell. But vengeance is not God’s chief characteristic. In the Apostles’ Creed, we confess a God whose chief characteristic is grace and mercy.
We confess the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is one God in three Persons. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the Father. But they are not three Gods, but one God. We cannot wrap our minds around this truth, but this is what Scripture teaches us about God. Plus, it would make sense that the nature of God would be beyond the reach of our reason.
God is transcendent and unfathomable. But on Christmas we celebrate a God who becomes immanent and manifest to us. The Son of God becomes flesh! In the Son, the Father also reveals Himself and makes Himself known! Paul says of Jesus in Colossians 1:15, “He is the image of the invisible God.” In the book of Hebrews (1:3), Scripture says, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” Jesus said to the Pharisees, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also” (John 8:19). Jesus is of the same divine substance as the Father, very God of very God, thus the Father is known only if the Son is known.
We don’t only get to know the Triune God through Jesus, but we also learn His character and His attitude toward us. In Christ, we see the great love of the Father. We see His compassion for the suffering, the poor, the sick, the dying, and for the lost sinner. The essence of His love toward us is found in His suffering and death on the cross to save us from the condemnation of the law.
The Holy Spirit is also involved in Christ’s coming. The Holy Spirit conceived Jesus in the womb of the Virgin Mary (Matthew 1:20). The Holy Spirit also led Jesus throughout His ministry (Matthew 4:1). The Holy Spirit also serves as the revealer of God to us. Jesus reveals Himself through His life, death and resurrection, but the Holy Spirit reveals Him to our hearts, creating true saving faith. Jesus says in St. John’s Gospel (John 15:26), “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” And elsewhere Scripture says, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3).
When we celebrate the incarnation of the Son of God, we celebrate Immanuel, which means “God with us.” Through Christ, the Triune God makes Himself known to us and reveals His grace toward us. The Triune God loves you and saves you! The Son of God was born flesh to save us from our sins, to deliver us from death and hell, and to give us life eternal with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. May this be your joy all year round! Amen.