I’ve tried to imagine the beginning but always come up with the question: What was there before the beginning? My puny mind cannot deal with always, eternal, forever. I love clocks and the passing of time, a new day, the start of a project, a mark on the calendar. The past comes before the present yet the idea of a beginning somewhere way back in time still begs the question — what happened prior to that?
The Bible does not try to explain eternity to mortals. We don’t have the capacity to understand it, only believe it is a reality, the realm of Almighty God who has always existed. He says of Himself and of Jesus Christ . . .
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)
“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.” (John 1:14)
This time of year we celebrate that the Word of God became flesh, that God Himself took on a body and lived among us. Emmanuel. We sing the carols and we know this story . . .
“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’” (Luke 2:8–14)
And I read this and slow down from baking, making, wrapping and answering the phone, texts and email to think about how the shepherds must have felt. The Jews, including these sheep-watchers, were waiting for Messiah, the fulfilment of God’s promise to deliver them. They didn’t know when, just that He was the long-expected Christ. Then in the night an angel brought the news.
If they had pondered my question about the beginning, it suddenly didn’t matter. The Messiah had come. God in human flesh, born in a manger no less, but here, with them, with us. They would leave the sheep (shepherds never do that) and run (Jewish men were dignified and usually did not run) and find the babe, the promised one.
I don’t care about the things I cannot figure out. God came down to be with us, to love us, to take us into His family, to be His lambs, to save us from our sin and folly and give us eternal life. It too has a beginning? How can that be if it is eternal? I don’t know how that works either except I know eternal life is in the One who came to live in the hearts of those who put their faith in Him. He brought the beginning, the eternal into me — and because I am His, I have no more questions, just the joy of knowing that I live — and I live forever because of this Baby born in a manger.
Lord Jesus, God with us, Savior and blessed Friend, faith in You is more than enough. I’m satisfied that all You say is true. I don’t need to understand realities that are beyond my grasp. I only need to love and enjoy You!