Jeremiah is probably not the portion of the Bible most think of when anticipating the Christmas season. It is filled with pronouncements of condemnation and judgment against a nation that had abandoned God and violated His covenant with them. At one point, God tells the people their religious worship departed so far from what he had commanded that it had not even entered His mind (Jer. 7:31). They had done what was to God unthinkable. In their desire to secure the blessings of God, they offered their own children as human sacrifices. God was appalled! He would bring upon that location, known later as Gehenna, destruction so severe and infamous that it would forever serve as a picture of hell.
Two Minds Contrasted
What struck me, as I considered this, was the tremendous contrast between the mind of God and mind of man. What man concocted in his desperate desire to secure his own peace and happiness was unthinkable to God. Yet, all the while, God had Himself devised a plan that was truly unthinkable. Key to that plan was the event we now commemorate as Christmas.
The Infinite and the Finite
How could you characterize it as anything other than unthinkable? The eternal Creator entered time to be born as a baby and be nursed by one of His own creatures! The one who spoke this marvelous and confounding universe into existence learned to talk while growing up as a carpenter’s son. Even more astounding – the Holy One entered into this fallen world to be known as the friend of sinners (Matt. 11:19). God would place His own Son into the arms of this sinful world, and would offer his Son to satisfy his own justice. We could never make ourselves acceptable to him. We could never satisfy his inflexible justice. Our condition is truly desperate. Oh, what lunacy, what audacity for us to even suggest that God should do what he in fact had determined to do before time began (Acts 2:23). It is unthinkable! – a thought that could only be conceived in the mind of the Infinite. It descends to fathomless depths by the sheer weight of immeasurable love.
We cannot begin to appreciate the Christ-child in the manger until we see him as the spotless Lamb of God. All other sacrifices were types and shadows. They merely pointed forward to the Son given (Isaiah 9:6). Of all the billions of humans that ever lived or will live, he alone is acceptable to God. The sinner can enjoy heaven only if the sinless God-man bears his hell.
Responding to the Unthinkable
This is the unthinkable grace that lay swaddled in a feeding trough in Bethlehem. How are we to respond to this? Let me offer you some words from Isaiah 55:
Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come buy and eat! (v. 1a)
Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD that he may have compassion on him, and to our God for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (vv. 5-8)
The only way to properly respond to God’s unthinkable grace is to humbly accept it – to humbly trust in Jesus Christ. May you have a blessed and joyous Christmas!