THE EXTREME PARADOX OF CHRISTMAS
by Don Weeks, Extreme Mission Evangelism | extrememission.org
“Mild he lays his glory by, born that man no more may die:” —Charles Wesley
Right now, at this very moment, you are reading something unreadable. Here’s why: I am writing something that is unwriteable. How can this be? Simple. It is a paradox.
The purpose of this blog post is to give glory to God, and I decided to write about God’s unspeakable gift. We know that God’s unspeakable gift is Christ. And yet, I am speaking about this unspeakable gift right now. This is also a paradox. Christ is an unspeakable gift, and yet we as Christians are commanded to speak of Him. We are commanded to go into all the world and speak the unspeakable gift to all the world. That, my friends, is an extreme paradox.
The message of Christmas is so simple. Jesus is born. And yet, the message of Christmas is extremely profound. The Godhead inhabits flesh. 1 Timothy 3:16 tells us, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh.” So then, Christmas is simply profound and profoundly simple. Christmas is an extreme paradox.
THE EXTREME PARADOX OF CHRIST
Christmas is a paradox because Christ Himself is the ultimate paradox. The Lord Jesus Christ is the King of the Universe. He alone is the center of Christmas. Yet, without Christ, there is no real Christmas at all. I suppose if we were able to list all the paradoxes of Christ, the entire world would not be able to contain them. So please allow me to list a few.
Christ is one hundred percent God and yet He is one hundred percent man. This is great mystery. This is an extreme paradox. As Charles Wesley said, Christ was, “Born that men no more may die.” Everything about Christ is a paradox. As my pastor friend Jesse Wagner explained, we should consider paradoxes in the Bible not so that we can explain them or figure them out. We will never have all the answers. Rather, we explore these paradoxes about Christ so that we might praise God and give Him glory. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways are extreme. Hallelujah and praise the Lord!
Jesus was born to die. He died so that we might live. Jesus is God and at the same time He is the Son of God. Jesus exists now as the Son of God and yet existed before all eternity. God is outside of time, and yet He lives within us in Christ. God is limitless, and yet Jesus purposely limited Himself by becoming a man. Jesus is the King of Kings and yet He subjected Himself to scorn, ridicule, and a shameful death. He was clothed in royalty in Heaven and yet hug naked to die on an old rugged cross.
He could have called ten thousand angels. He could have commanded the mountains to revolt against His enemies and bury them. He could have done anything He wanted, and yet His greatest show of power was to do nothing of all, and submit to the Father’s will. And He remained silent through it all. As as a sheep is led to the slaughter, our Redeemer remained silent. Sinless, He was condemned for the sinful. Guiltless, He was crucified for the guilty.
Perhaps the most extreme paradox that the human mind could ever about Christ is summed up in 2 Corinthians 5:21.
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
God made Christ to be sin. Extreme!
God made Christ to be sin—for us. Extreme!
That we might be made the righteousness of God in Christ. Extreme!
There is no way to explain this paradox. We cannot fathom it. God did not give us Christ to figure Him out. We are saved to praise Him, extol Him, and adore Him. The paradox of Christ is the paradox of His salvation and of His love. It causes our innermost being to ask, “Why?”
Why should He love me so?
Why should He love me so?
Why should my Savior to Calvary go?
Why should He love me so?
THE EXTREME PARADOX OF MARY
A virgin…has a baby? A sinner…carries perfection inside her? The Creator of all lives inside His creation? A lowly maiden cradles, nurses, and sustains the King of the Universe? This is extreme.
Mary was told that she would have the privilege of bearing Christ. She would soon deliver her Deliverer. Jesus would be born once so that all mankind could be born twice. Jesus took upon Himself sinful flesh so that our spirits could be sinless and live forevermore. The One True God somehow wrapped Himself in skin and grew inside a woman to be born. How extreme! Mary, the sinner, would carry Jesus, the sinless Son of God.
Listen now as Mary unleashes her praise. Pay attention as she expounds the extreme paradox of Christ in almost every verse of her Magnificat:
And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden:
For, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
He hath shewed strength with his arm;
He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;
As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.
THE EXTREME PARADOX OF HIS SUPREMACY
A little baby is born in Bethlehem. Just a baby. But His story is the story of human history. His story is—and shall be—the story of every man and every women throughout all eternity. All souls are His. Forever. Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God. It does not matter if a soul is in heaven or hell or on the earth. The prophecy has been breathed out and written by God. It will come to pass. This is the destiny of every knee and of every tongue.
“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10-11)
Bible truth is real-world truth. Jesus is exactly who Scripture says He is now, and who He will be in the future. Listen as the Prophet Isaiah tells us who Jesus is and who He shall be. Notice the paradoxes in his prophecy.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: And the government shall be upon his shoulder: And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, Upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, To order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice From henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
The tiny baby born in Bethlehem is the mighty God. The little boy of Bethlehem is the everlasting Father. Truly, His ways are higher than our ways. Truly, His ways are past finding out. All we can say is what the angels proclaimed at the birth of Christ: “Glory to God in the highest!” In other words, Glory to God in the extreme! Amen?
THE EXTREME PARADOX OF PROPHECY
A virgin conceives. An unknown village becomes world famous. A star points to a baby. Everything about Christ is extreme.
“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
Who can deny the extremeness of this prophecy? It is, in the truest sense of the word, unbelievable. It is humanly impossible. It is…unspeakable. And yet, Christmas happened. The Word was made flesh and actually dwelt among us.
Did you know that Jesus Himself spoke of His own birth? He spoke directly of His birth just once, as far as I could find. It occurs in John 18:37. Jesus is about to be crucified. He is guiding the conversation with Pontius Pilate:
“Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.”
Jesus, expounding on truth to Pilate, speaks volumes about His own birth. Our Savior tells us why Christmas really happened, and why He was born. Jesus is more than the “reason for the season.” So succinctly, Jesus explains that He is a King. He says for “this end,” or reason, “was I born.” Jesus tells Pilate that He was born to be a King, and that He would bear witness to the truth, and that those that are, “of the truth,” would hear His voice. Jesus is a paradox in the extreme.
What kind of criminal has ever spoken to His accusers in such a fashion? Pilate should have realized Christ was no criminal. Pilate should have heeded his wife’s warning when she said to him, “Have thou nothing to do with that just man.” Instead Pilate says to Christ, “What is truth?” Then he foolishly crucifies the King of Glory.
It is a paradox that each one of us fulfills Scripture. Some of us fulfill it in a negative way, like Pilate, denying Christ. Some of us fulfill Scripture in a positive way, by coming to Christ and kneeling before Him. Pilate denied Christ and sent Him to the cross, and thus fulfilled prophecy. Through the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, the Gospel was completed. Jesus was born to be condemned. Jesus was born to be crucified and buried. Jesus who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, was born to rise from the dead. This is nothing less than extreme. What a story! And it’s not just a story, it’s a soul-saving paradox called the Gospel.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)
THE EXTREME PARADOX OF THE WORLD MISSING CHRISTMAS
Even in this age, contemporary singers and pop stars are heard in our shopping malls at Christmas time singing about the Lord. They sing of His miraculous birth. Words like, “Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King,” and, “So silently, so silently the wondrous Gift is given,” echo out into the stores while shoppers buy more stuff. From Black Friday to Christmas Eve, it’s all about getting that perfect gift.
But who are the gifts for? Who’s birthday is it, anyway? How crazy would it be to be invited to a birthday party and the birthday boy just sits there and watches everyone give gifts to each other? That would be ridiculous. That would be extreme. Christ is a big part of the word Christmas, and yet, the world forgets. The world misunderstands. The world totally misses Christ as it runs headlong for Santa and his supposed gifts.
THE EXTREME PARADOX OF CHRISTIANS MISSING CHRISTMAS
Jesus Himself tells us why He was born. We as Christians, for the most part, are missing it, too. We follow right along with the world, buying more stuff. Maybe we read the Christmas story before opening presents. Maybe we go to church. But if we are not careful, we can end up doing the same thing as the world. If we are not careful, we too can miss Christmas.
Jesus said He was born to bear witness of the truth. We will totally miss Christmas if we neglect the reason for His birth: to bear witness of the truth of Christ. This is the truth of Christmas. Let us not miss it. Maybe you and I are compelled to keep buying more stuff. But no matter what we do, let us make certain we do not miss the reason Christ Himself said He was born: to bear witness of the truth.
What’s the greatest paradox about Christmas? Is it paradox of prophecies? Is it the paradox of Mary? No, the greatest paradox, the most extreme paradox is how we as Christians can miss completely miss it. We can fail to bear witness to the truth of Christ. We can string up the most beautiful Christmas lights in the world, and miss it. We can give wonderful gifts to our family and miss it. We can even go to church and miss it.
The the world around us is dark. They need Christ. He is the light of the world. As long as we shine Christ to the world, we can never miss Christmas.
Jesus said, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” If we hear His voice, we will also hear His Great Commission. When we bear witness of Christ, we light up this dark world with the hope of the gospel, and ultimately bring glory to God.
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” —Jesus (Mark 16:15)
About the Author
If you meet Don Weeks and you ask him how he got into the ministry, he would tell you that he simply loves God.
He is married to Greta Elizabeta, the love of his life and best friend. They have been married for 32 years. God has given them six children and six grandchildren.
Don was saved and called to preach while working as Parks & Recreation Director for Bay Village, Ohio. After attending Heritage Baptist Institute, he became associate pastor at Cleveland Baptist Church. For 3 1/2 years he served as Bus Director and Spanish ministry director.
While serving there, he was called to the mission field of Sucre, Bolivia, South America. There he, his wife, and six children planted a church. (God did it!
After 8 years as full-time missionaries the church was established and they returned to the states to serve as Pastor at Antioch Baptist Church in Ona, West Virginia. They served there for seven years until beginning Extreme Mission Evangelism, June 1, 2018.
Don is now serving with the Gospel Preacher Association raising support while reaching the remote and hard to reach around the world for Christ. Current areas of operation are Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Panama, Nunavut, and Bolivia. Find out more at extrememission.org.