Infant Jesus, Creator and Saviour

 

A Christmas Eve Address

by the Rev. James P. Cooper

  1. One of the most difficult questions we face when thinking about the incarnation (as we always do especially at Christmas time) is how that sweet babe in the manger could have been both an infant and the Creator and Saviour of the World.
    1. We know He was not magically born with a fully functioning adult mind because of the way the scriptures (briefly) describe His states of development, and because of the following teaching from the Heavenly Doctrines:
      1. Now since God came down, and since He is Order itself, it was necessary, in order for Him actually to become Man, that He should be conceived, carried in the womb, and be born; and that He should be educated, acquiring in due course the knowledge by which He might attain to intelligence and wisdom. Therefore as to His Humanity He was an infant like any other infant, a boy like any other boy, and so on; but with this sole difference, that He passed through those progressive states sooner, more fully and more perfectly than others. This was done because the Divine order is that a man should prepare himself for the reception of God; and as he prepares himself so God enters into him, as into His own dwelling-place and home. Such preparation is effected by means of the knowledge of God and of the spiritual things belonging to the Church, and thus by intelligence and wisdom. For it is a law of order that so far as a man approaches and draws near to God, which he must do entirely as of himself, so far God approaches and draws near to him, and interiorly conjoins Himself to him. The Lord advanced to complete union with His Father according to this order.1
    2. Having been told that there was a normal progression of states, only much faster than for the rest of us, we can see why we have only one brief glimpse of the Lord as a child:
      1. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. {43} When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; {44} but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. {45} So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him.
        {46} Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. {47} And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. {48} So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” {49} And He said to them,
        “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” {50} But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.
        {51} Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart.
        2
      2. This incident suggests that the Lord’s educational preparation was completed at twelve years of age.
        1. Twelve” represents “all the goods and truths of the church”3 so perhaps we can infer that when He reached twelve years of age, He had acquired for Himself “all the goods and truths of the church” from His study of the scripture.
        2. This mastery was demonstrated by travelling to Jerusalem, the centre of the Jewish church, and showing such mastery of scriptural knowledge that the recognized experts in the subject were “astonished” at His knowledge and insight.
      3. This story also suggests that by the time He was twelve He was fully aware of His Divine nature and mission, in that He stated that He was “about His Father’s business.”
    3. But, how did this transformation take place, and Who was running the universe while the Human was becoming self-aware?
      1. One way to look at it is to step back and try to see the “big picture” of the Lord’s relationship to mankind.
  2. The Most Ancient Church, the Ancient Church, and the Jewish Church (in its several forms) were all “representative” churches.
    1. The Lord was present with them “representatively” – not actually – by means of the “Angel of Jehovah.”
      1. Mention is made several times in the Word of ‘the angel of Jehovah’, and in every case when used in the good sense it represents and means some essential quality with the Lord and from the Lord. … They were indeed angels who were sent to men and women, and who also spoke through the prophets. Yet what they spoke did not originate in those angels but was something imparted through them. In fact their state at the time was such that they knew no other than that they were Jehovah, that is, the Lord. But as soon as they had finished speaking they returned to their previous state and spoke as they normally did from themselves.4
      2. Because the Lord appeared to the people of these churches through an angel that represented Him, we also find that there is no reference to a “Divine Human” before the incarnation. Instead, His presence with mankind during this period is called the “Human Divine.”5
    2. When the infant Jesus was born, the “old system” of the Angel of Jehovah as the “Human Divine” was not instantly dismantled.
      1. The Lord was still present with the Jewish Church “representatively”.
        1. In support of this idea we see that Jesus was in fact a rabbi or “teacher” in the Jewish Church, showing that even while He was in the world and teaching, the influx was still flowing from heaven to earth through the structures of the Jewish Church.
    3. John the Baptist is also representative of that transitional period.
      1. Prophetically “representing” the Old Testament – many passages linking him to Elijah – John stands as a symbol of the “old system”, but his work, his calling was to prepare the way for the “new system.”
          • He must increase, but I must decrease.6
    4. The resurrected, glorified Lord “represents” the New Testament, the “new system.”
      1. The New Testament records His birth, youth, and ministry, showing growing power and miracles of increasing complexity:
        1. Healing at a touch, from a distance, from the dead.
      2. Temptations of increasing severity
        1. Fasting in the Wilderness
        2. The Prayer in Gethsemene
        3. Leading to the temptation on the cross.
    5. Rather than thinking about a sudden switch at the Lord’s birth which could lead to confusion and doubt, we should instead think of a gradual and orderly change.
      1. While the Human mind was infantile, the Angel of Jehovah continued in its use.
      2. But as the Human was gradually glorified the “old system” decreased as the “new system” increased7
      3. The Lord took over from John.
        1. The changeover was completed with the glorification/ascention and the true beginning of the Christian Church.
  3. Let us celebrate Christmas as the bright and tender beginning of a process.
    1. Let us wonder at the order and the foresight that made this possible.
    2. Let us humbly accept His Providence as our most precious gift this Christmas.

She will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”8 Amen.

 

Old Testament Lesson:

(GEN 3:13-15) And the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” {14} So the LORD God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life. {15} And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”

(NUM 24:15-19) So he took up his oracle and said: “The utterance of Balaam the son of Beor, And the utterance of the man whose eyes are opened; {16} The utterance of him who hears the words of God, And has the knowledge of the Most High, Who sees the vision of the Almighty, Who falls down, with eyes wide open: {17} “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel, And batter the brow of Moab, And destroy all the sons of tumult. {18} “And Edom shall be a possession; Seir also, his enemies, shall be a possession, While Israel does valiantly. {19} Out of Jacob One shall have dominion, And destroy the remains of the city.”

(Isa 7:14-16) “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. {15} “Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good. {16} “For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings.

(Isa 9:6-7) For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. {7} Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

(Isa 11:1-4) There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. {2} The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. {3} His delight is in the fear of the LORD, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears; {4} But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.

(Micah 5:2-5) “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.” {3} Therefore He shall give them up, Until the time that she who is in labor has given birth; Then the remnant of His brethren Shall return to the children of Israel. {4} And He shall stand and feed His flock In the strength of the LORD, In the majesty of the name of the LORD His God; And they shall abide, For now He shall be great To the ends of the earth; {5} And this One shall be peace. When the Assyrian comes into our land, And when he treads in our palaces, Then we will raise against him Seven shepherds and eight princely men. Amen.

Hymn

New Testament Lesson:

(Mat 1:18-24) Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. {19} Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. {20} But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. {21} “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” {22} So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: {23} “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” {24} Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.

(Luke 2:1-20) And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. {2} This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. {3} So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. {4} Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, {5} to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. {6} So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. {7} And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

{8} Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. {9} And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. {10} Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. {11} “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. {12} “And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” {13} And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: {14} “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” {15} So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” {16} And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. {17} Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. {18} And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. {19} But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. {20} Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

(Mat 2:1-12) Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, {2} saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” {3} When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. {4} And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. {5} So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: {6} ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’” {7} Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. {8} And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.” {9} When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. {10} When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. {11} And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. {12} Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. Amen.

Hymn

Readings from the Heavenly Doctrine:

Lord 3. Briefly stated, the subjects concerning the Lord that are treated of in all the Prophets of the Old Testament, from Isaiah to Malachi, both in general and in particular, are these:

i. The Lord came into the world in the fullness of times, which was when He was no longer known by the Jews, and when, consequently, there was nothing of the church left; and unless He had then come into the world and revealed Himself, mankind would have perished in eternal death. As He Himself says in John: Except ye believe that I am, ye shall die in your sins (8:24).

ii. The Lord came into the world to execute a Last Judgment, and thereby to subdue the existing dominance of the hells; which was effected by means of combats (that is, temptations) admitted into his maternal human, and the attendant continual victories; for unless the hells had been subjugated no man could have been saved.

iii. The Lord came into the world in order to glorify His Human, that is, unite it to the Divine which was in Him from conception.

iv. The Lord came into the world in order to set up a new church which should acknowledge Him as the Redeemer and Savior, and be redeemed and saved through love to Him and faith in Him.

v. He at the same time reduced heaven into order, so that it made a one with the church.

vi. The passion of the cross was the last combat or temptation, by means of which He completely conquered the hells and fully glorified His Human. Amen.

 

1True Christian Religion 89

2Luke 2:42-51

3Apocalypse Revealed 915:3

4Arcana Coelestia 1925:1

5Arcana Coelestia 2665

6John 3:30

7Compare John 3:30

8Matthew 1:21-23

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s