Before Bethlehem

Other than the whole miraculous conception, angel-announced-pregnancy thing, those middle sections of the Christmas story were just like any other woman’s pregnancy. Although she had to be in utter awe of the fact that the baby kicking around inside her was God Himself, Mary still did carry Him for 9 months. Like other babies, Jesus grew, wiggled, and slept within her. Mary possibly had morning sickness, and she certainly had all the other aches, pains, and general awkwardnesses that come with having a belly the size of a watermelon. To anyone who saw her on the street, Mary looked like a normal woman who had a normal pregnancy with a normal baby.

But that was anything but true.

Why? Well, lots of reasons, but for starters, the whole existing before creation thing was pretty unique.

Nativity Scene

Photo by Berit Watkin on Flickr

We know that every baby we have ever met was created at conception. That is the beginning of their life, which makes perfect sense. When you first exist is when you first exist. Plain and simple. Right?

Not always.

Unfortunately, many people make the assumption that since Jesus was born that day in Bethlehem, that that was also when He began. After all, that’s how it looks. One day, Mary found out she was pregnant, then the baby had to grow and develop. It looks the same as the babies we know, but it isn’t. For Jesus, it was only a small part of the greater picture.

In fact, Jesus not only existed before His descent to Earth as a baby, He even ruled and reigned long before Bethlehem. Jesus is fully God, a piece of what makes up the one God, a part of a confusing concept known as the Trinity.

How do I know all this, you ask? Well, to begin with, Jesus said it Himself.

  • In John 8:58, Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Before Abraham lived, Jesus lived, then kept on living, and always will live. Jesus is.
  • In John 17:5, while Jesus was praying, He said, “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (emphasis added). Jesus was part of the glory of God before the world ever existed.

Other people described Jesus this way too.

  • John 1:1 says, referring to Jesus as ‘The Word,’ “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus was God at the very beginning.
  • According to Hebrews 1:1-2, God, “has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds…”

“Through whom also He made the worlds”… At the beginning of time. Long before Bethlehem.


But as interesting as this all is, does it really mean anything? Does it matter that Jesus has existed forever?

Absolutely, it matters!

It goes back to that idea of the Trinity I mentioned earlier. Now, this is perhaps the most confusing, complicated idea in the entire Bible, so I will only briefly explain it here. It is perhaps even impossible to really understand (although who wants a God they can fully understand?). It is, though, fully possible to accept it on faith, which we are asked to do.

Here it goes: Jesus is God. God the Father is God. The Holy Spirit is God. There is only one God.

Those might seem like contradicting ideas, but they actually aren’t. Our God is one made up of three distinct persons who all fulfill different roles, but who are in fact, all one.

And that’s the best I can do.

But even that level of understanding is astounding.

Remember how we read John 17:5 earlier? In it, Jesus said, “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”

The most beautiful part of the Christmas story to me is that Jesus, having the full glory of God, gave that up to come to Earth, to be poor, lowly, and rejected, and to sacrifice Himself for us. He wasn’t just suddenly born here on Earth, He had known total glory and unending, unalterable power. On Earth He had to walk, to work, to deal with bugs and dirt, to sleep, to eat, to see sickness and death, to live among sinners.

Jesus made more of a sacrifice than we can ever imagine just coming to this Earth in the first place, not to mention taking the judgment for all of our sins. He chose to come for us that first Christmas morning because He knew how desperately we needed His sacrifice.

Jesus was certainly no ordinary baby. He was the holy, majestic, glorified Lord.

And oh, what a loving Lord He is.

[Jesus], being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

-Philippians 2:6-11

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