We celebrate the birth of our Lord because it was the fulfillment of a promise to Adam and Eve and because it was the beginning of the victory He won for us. Yet we do not worship an infant Jesus but a risen Lord and King. My father once referred to the incarnation as God’s re-invasion of human history to set it aright. One of the blessings of traditional Christmas carols is they remind us that the grace of God involves more than a personal application, for they refer to what is obvious in the New Testament – the incarnation was the pivotal event of human history. They note the implications of the birth of Jesus, not just His atonement and resurrection, but as King of kings and Lord of lords.
In the first century, that expression could only be understood as a transcendent authority. Jesus would exercise His power to “disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death’s dark shadows put to flight” (“O Come, O Come Emmanuel”). Jesus brings in “the realms of endless day, that the powers of hell may vanish as the darkness clears away” (“Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence”). Perhaps the best-known Christmas carol is “Joy to the World.” Its third verse references the reign of Jesus in His Kingdom in history:
No more let sins and sorrow grow,
nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make his blessings flow
far as the curse is found…
This “increase of his government” spoken of in Isaiah 9:7 is also echoed in “It Came upon the Midnight Clear,”
…when the circling years
come round the age of gold;
when peace shall over all the earth
its ancient splendors fling,
and the whole world give back
the song which now the angels sing.
A lesser-known carol, “On Christmas Night All Christians Sing,” exclaims:
…when sin departs before Your grace,
then life and health come in its place;
angels and men with joy may sing,
all for to see the newborn King.
We depreciate the incarnation of God in human flesh in the person of Jesus if we in any way minimalize or “spiritualize” away any of the certain consequences of the rightful King’s re-invasion of His dominion.