"An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins'" (Matthew 1:20-21).
Jesus Christ is the second person of the triune Godhead. He was with God in the beginning and through him all things were created (John 1:2-3, Colossians 1:15-17). Through Jesus all things were created good, free from evil, and functioning as God intended (Genesis 1:4, 31). But when humankind chose evil over good, sin entered into the world and brought with it painful consequences. As a result of sin, the wickedness of the human race increases and every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart became increasingly evil, all the time (Genesis 6:5).
The restoration of good in creation of God now requires redemption because we cannot save ourselves from the mess we created.
In God's wisdom and love, Jesus, through whom all things were created, is the Redeemer who comes into the messy world He created as good to bring restoration and salvation, to reconcile the world unto itself.
Marking the dawning of a new era is the miraculous virgin birth of Jesus Christ. It is significant, something new, something which has never been seen before, and something that has not been seen since. Only God can perform this miraculous act. For the people of Israel, it is no secret that God's power and authority transcends the laws of nature.
Isaac's birth (Genesis 21:1-7) and John the Baptist's birth (Luke 1) are examples of God's expression of His mighty works which transcend the laws of nature. However, the birth of Christ supersedees this.
Jesus, the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15), the visible expression, true reflection, and representation of God, comes by the Holy Spirit and is born of the Virgin Mary, so that two whole and perfect natures, the Godhead and manhood, are united in Jesus Christ.
Attempts to find parallels of virgin births in the mythical stories show that the traditional myths are just that. No pagan or other mythological tales can be found that offer evidence of a virgin birth. Those traditions involve relationships between a god and a human. This is not the case with the birth of Jesus. He is the Son of God ("The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God" Luke 1:35.), anointed and appointed by God to save the world.
Although throughout the Old Testament the people of Israel anticipate the coming of the Messiah for their salvation, they seem to have no expectation that He will come as He did. They also seem to have missed that God's plan for the restoration of the world included Jesus' death on the cross and His resurrection on the third day. His birth, death, and resurrection are miraculous signs that find meaning in God. The miracles, signs, and wonders that Jesus performed are results of the power that derived from the Father.
The New Testament writers are in agreement that Jesus is from God, and God's power is at work in and through Him as Jesus goes about the business of His Father to establish the kingdom of God. This is a kingdom that breaks into the world of darkness and is actively at work to reconcile the world to God.
Christ's death and resurrection further reveal God's image to the world. The expression of God's love for humanity, possibility of forgiveness of sin, transformed life, and reconciled relationship with God in and through Christ (1 John 3:1-10), are for those who believe in Jesus Christ. And those who have been transformed by Christ are promised eternal life which is made possible as a result of the victory of Christ over death (1 Corinthians 15:12, 20| 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). The resurrection of Christ reassures us that God has power and authority over His creation. Not even death can limit His power. He can bring to life that which is dead, "Death has been swallowed up in victory" (1 Corinthians 15:54).
Therefore, even though the world is in a chaotic state, and because of sin and its consequences things seem to be getting worse, there is great optimism for the healing of the human condition and the world.
Through Jesus Christ, salvation is accessible for all!
As people, communities, and villages call on the name of Jesus in repentance and receive the forgiveness of sin, all are empowered by the Lord to live victorious lives and to be witnesses of the new kingdom, the kingdom of God.
Thus, Jesus commissions His followers, the church, to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20a).
The Church, marked by Jesus Christ, must be the reflection and expression of Jesus Christ to the world. The church must derive its power from Jesus. Apart from Christ, we cannot and will not bear fruit (John 15:1-17). We are called to join in revealing Jesus to the world and to partner with Jesus in His mission to reverse the effects of sin. We are called to be the revelation of the breaking in of the kingdom of God into the world of darkness.
Those marked by Jesus become God's showcase to the world, witnessing the fact that salvation and redemption are available to everyone. People do not have to live enslaved by the power of evil, for Christ has the power to set people free from evil and its power. Sin brought disorder into the world, but Christ's death provides a way to heal the world.
Jesus Christ not only sets us free from sin and its power, but He also sustains His creation. "In him all things hold together" (Colossians 1:17). Thus, when we confess that we believe in Jesus Christ, we affirm that we put our trust in and acknowledge that Jesus Christ's way of life is what God intends for all humanity. Believing in Jesus Christ means committing every aspect of our lives to His Lordship. It is a choice to live in obedience to His teachings and in assurance of hope that He sustains us with His mighty power.
Filimao M. Chambo serves as director of the Africa Region of the Church of the Nazarene.