The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There's not a whole lot! I mean, on the one hand we could say the resurrection of our Lord from the dead. That's certainly a joyous occasion (as well as Good Friday, where He paid the penalty for our sins).
But neither of those could have happened unless he did the truly remarkable thing of becoming one of us; or, as John records it: "the Word became flesh" (Jn. 1:14).
A good summary of the importance of this is found in the beloved theologian J.I. Packer:
But in fact the real difficulty, the supreme mystery with which the gospel confronts us, does not lie here at all: It lies not in the Good Friday message of atonement, nor in the Easter message of resurrection, but in the Christmas message of Incarnation. The really staggering Christian claim is that Jesus of Nazareth was God made man - that the second person of the Godhead became the "second man" (1 Cor 15:47), determining human destiny, the second representative head of the race, and that he took humanity without loss of deity, so that Jesus of Nazareth was as truly and fully divine as he was human.
Why is this such a great joy?
The reason I find Christmas as such a great joy is that the Incarnation is the only way salvation could have been truly and fully accomplished in the cross and resurrection of our Lord.
Had He not been incarnated, He would not have died. Surely God cannot die (1 Tim. 1:17); but just as surely, man cannot provide a permanent, eternal sacrifice as the propitiation for our sins (Heb. 7:23, 10:1, 4).
But in the Incarnation we have the only remedy possible - the God-Man who, because He is God will live forever even if in his flesh he is killed (Acts 2:24; Rom. 1:4), and because He is man is able to die, offering Himself as a final sacrifice which will never need to be repeated because of the perfect efficacy of His pure and holy blood (Heb. 7:24, 25, 9:11, 12, 24, 25, 26).
To further this great joy of the Incarnation being the only remedy to provide for God's people an eternal redemption beyond comprehension, there is even more joy when thinking about Jesus' life in the flesh.
My friends, the Christian life is not easy. While truly on the one hand our Lord's words are very secure regarding the rest we have in carrying a light burden (Mt. 11:28-30), it is equally true that "through many tribulations we will enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22; cf. 2 Tim. 3:12).
But you see, this is why Christ says that even in these tribulations our burden is light (Mt. 11:30):
"For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted."
"Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them."
It's precisely because He, our eternal God, became man, that He is able to help us so severely when we are tempted and save us to the uttermost because of His intercessory work on our behalf.
What greater love is this?
I contend there is no other (1 Jn. 4:9, 10)!
And yet my joy increases all the more!
Because this redemption is not just on the individual level. Yes - this is the greatest blessing we could ever fathom for ourselves and our families - but it doesn't just stop on the individual level of personal redemption. We see God continuing His sovereign reign over the world as He uses the church to turn more and more people to Himself - to His Son - and through the power of the Spirit redeem entire tribes, tongues, peoples, and nations.
This is the victory promised to the church: "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Mt. 16:18) and
"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."
If the church is promised that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and it is through the power of the Holy Spirit (the "power at work within us") through which glory will be brought to God through the church and Christ Jesus throughout all generations" - then surely we are guaranteed victory in reaching the ends of the earth with this blessed message of the Incarnation - that God became man to redeem His people from their sins!
Let these Scriptures be an encouragement to us all during this blessed season of remembering the mysterious and wonderful Incarnation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
For truly - "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" (Jn. 1:5).
For to us a child is born,
Do you want evidence of how God is bringing this very passage about? Watch this brief video showing the expanse of the influence of the church on a global level and praise God that His Son became flesh and dwelt among us; and that His light shines brighter and brighter throughout the dark world (which will not overcome it) as He works through His church - the very living body of our Lord. Amen.
Let us embrace the wonderful Scripture truths and the powerful working of God that He works even in sinners like us whom He has redeemed:
Joy to the World , the Lord is come!