We’ve all heard those engagement stories, where a young man schemed for months to surprise his bride to be with an elaborate proposal. (I have one of these stories of my own, which may or may not involve an unsavory character pacing the beach we were sitting on and ruining my moment!) What makes these stories so romantic? I would say that it was the planning that happened before the moment of proposal. The effort and the arranging of time and circumstances to make the beginning of the marriage journey memorable is usually deeply appreciated. This type of intentionality is never more clear and meaningful than when we look deeply into the heart of God as he set in motion his plan for Redemption with the birth of his only Son. That act, when Jesus took on the form of a servant and put on flesh, is such a beautiful act of absolute love. Jesus was sent in love, he came for love, and he came to love. Indeed, our Jesus is love. But as lovely as it is to ponder the mysterious miracle in Bethlehem, we should consider this: what if that manger was not the beginning of the Father’s redemption plan? What if the incarnation was the realization, the coming to fruition, of the plan that had always been?
Consider Ephesians 1:4
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.
and 1 Peter 1:18-20
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors,but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.
Before the creation of the world. This means that before the Creator created anything, when Father, Son and Spirit were existing alone in perfection, God chose to create this universe and all of humanity. He chose knowing that we would fall, and that this Fall would cost him his Son. But he did it anyway. On purpose. It was always the plan. Are you getting this? This means that there has never been a time that we were not known, loved, and planned for. Can you see how God, the pursuer of human hearts, so loved the world that he gave his only Son that day in Bethlehem?
Imagine with me for a moment, if you will. Imagine that God existed within time as we know it. Can you imagine Jesus’ last day in heaven? What was that like? When the time came for Father and Son, who had never been apart, to say goodbye? I imagine them talking about how much they loved humanity. How much they loved us. How much they loved me. And then the moment came for Jesus to leave. I’m not sure if it happened this way or not, but we do know what happened next. Soon, he came kicking and screaming (literally, not figuratively) into this cold, dark world. This is the mystery of the incarnation that we revel in during the Christmas season - and we should! The coming of our Savior is cause for deep joy and genuine celebration. But as we rejoice about the baby in the manger, may our gratitude and adoration of the Christ Child deepen all the more when we ponder the fact that we were chosen in Him before we even existed. And that that holy night in Bethlehem was a huge leap forward in the redemption plan that had always been - before the creation of the world.