…The Gospel of God… concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit. (Romans 1:1-4)
Here, the Apostle Paul, through inspiration, seems to grasp what theologians call “The Incarnation” and have written volumes trying to explain.
Very simply, the contrast of words seems to capture the two extremes: “born,” “seed of David,” and “flesh,” contrasted by “declared,” “Son of God,” and “Spirit.”
A change took place in the One who “thought it not robbery to be equal to God.” He had to be “born.” He had to take on the form of a man. He had to humble himself and be obedient. To be the Son of God, however, no change was needed. He was simply “declared” that. Angels announced it at His birth, wise men went seeking for one who was a king already, and worshipped Him – before He had confounded the Pharisees in the Temple, answered the questions they could not, taught any parables, or done any miracles.
Isaiah tells of it centuries before it happened when he prophesies that the “child” born would also be called the “Mighty God” and that the “Son” that is given would bear the name the “Everlasting Father.” Paul had it right. There would be a conception, there would be a birth and a baby and a manger scene.
Yet, the story does not stop there. The Spirit completes the story; the kingly must come into the common. He, who is eternal, steps into time and space, and somehow, the throne finds its home in a stable.
Luke picks up the same thing in his Gospel in chapter 2, verses 1-11, which conclude “There is born to you… a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” In verses 4 and 7, he uses the same word twice to bring the two extremes into one event: because. Verse 4: “So Joseph also went… to Bethlehem the town of David, BECAUSE he belonged to the house and line of David.” Verse 7: “She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, BECAUSE there was no room available for them.”
It is a mystery, as Paul writes to Timothy, that “God” would be “manifested in the flesh” and yet “justified in the Spirit.” The Apostle Peter even had a hard time understanding that “the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” could wash feet.
It takes both parts to make the Christmas story complete. As we declare in songs and cards and decorations the miracle birth, the manger, and what He “made” of Himself, let us not forget to declare along with the book of Romans that He is also the Son of God with (all) power!