And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John1:14 ESV
The Hebrew scriptures foretold the coming of the Messiah and the glories that would follow his arrival. The prophets who were given those comforting predictions did not have a clear picture of the things to come (1Pet.1:10-12). The Pharisees and the teachers of the law knew of the coming Messiah and were looking for his arrival but they were confused as to what to expect. They saw him as a conquering king who would free them from the rule of the Roman empire. Even the disciples had this idea (Acts 1:6). The Jews of Christ’s day were so obsessed with having their freedom that they could not understand a Messiah who seemed powerless to deliver them from the power of Rome. They missed the reasons for the incarnation of Jesus which Jesus himself gave in Luke 4:18-19.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isa.7:14 ESV
The angel Gabriel was sent to a virgin named Mary. He announced to her that she would bear a son and she was to name him Jesus. When Mary inquired as to how this would be possible seeing that she was a virgin, the angel told her that God would implant the child in her womb. He further explained to her that she was the one chosen by God to bring the Messiah into the world. Mary was humbled by the news and gave God thanks for allowing her to be his faithful servant (Luke 1:26-38).
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days. Micah 5:2 ESV
From this prophecy in Micah, the Jewish authorities knew that the Messiah would be born in the town of Bethlehem. They knew that he was born to be a king, but they did not comprehend the nature and scope of his kingdom. Because of this ignorance, Herod became jealous on hearing about the birth of this new king and he set out to destroy him. Even the evil attempt of Herod to thwart the purposes of God was foretold in Jer.31:15.
She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. Mat.1:21 ESV
Jesus was to be the woman’s seed who would crush the head of the enemy Satan (Gen,3:15). He would be the Passover lamb of Exodus 112;1-51 and John 1:29. He would make atonement for the sins of the world as prophesied in Isa.53:4-12 and fulfilled Heb.9:28 and many other scriptures.
There were righteous, ordinary persons among the Jews who were eagerly anticipating the coming of the Messiah. Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist and wife of Zechariah the priest, on seeing Mary became filled with the Spirit and exclaimed loudly, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” (Luke 1:42-44 ESV). Elizabeth was overjoyed to be in the presence of the mother of Jesus.
Simeon, an elderly man was waiting to see the Messiah for himself before he died. For him, the arrival of Messiah was the indication that he could now depart this life having seen God’s salvation for his people (Luke 2:28-32). Similarly, Anna a prophetess who spent her life at the temple praying, fasting and worshipping, approached Jesus’ parents and gave God thanks for the child. She too spoke of the redemption of Jerusalem which Messiah was to accomplish (Luke 2:38).
The incarnation, the mystery of how God put on flesh to become one of us, is the glorious work and plan of a loving God to redeem us from the curse Adam brought. The incarnation demonstrates the power of God to achieve his plans for the redemption of mankind and to defeat the wicked purposes of the devil. The incarnation is God’s promise to Israel and the rest of the world fulfilled in his only Son Jesus. The incarnation is our only hope for deliverance (Acts 4:12). Therefore, let us like Anna the prophetess, give God thanks for providing deliverance, salvation and a glorious hope for us through his Son Jesus who became flesh and dwelt among us.