“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…” Luke 1:26-35a
God has this knack for inserting Himself into our lives just at the right moment, doesn’t He? Whether we’re struggling with relationships, money, purpose, or a myriad of other things, He always seems to be waiting in the wings, ready to come to our rescue. Although He may not show up when we expect Him to, He’s never too early or too late to transform our seemingly insurmountable problems into opportunities for spiritual growth and maturity.
There is a literary device called the “deus ex machina,” or “god out of the machine.” It was often used in Greek tragedies to resolve a seemingly intractable problem. The plays would utilize a crane to lower a “god” onto the stage that could somehow resolve the plot – no matter the conflict – expeditiously. It has been viewed as an inferior plot device because it was deemed an easy or lazy way to resolve a conflict. But as is so often the case, it was simply man expressing through literature God’s work in our lives.
The Christmas story is all about deus ex machina, God inserting Himself into the story of man to resolve OUR intractable problem. We were on the outside looking in, and then, through this incredible act that we call the incarnation, those of us who have placed our faith in Christ now find ourselves fellow heirs of Christ, seated at the right hand of God, enjoying the peace of God and the promises of God.
But I want to go back to that last verse above:
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…”
Deus ex machina – with POWER. This isn’t some lazy literary device; this is the power of God expressed in the Person of Jesus Christ.
We sometimes lose sight of that particular aspect of the coming of Christ. We see a Babe born in a manger. We see the humility with which He lived His life. We see His gentleness, His meekness – and we should see that and celebrate that. But what made this happen was the “power of the Most High”.
The Savior whose birth we celebrate is capable of coming upon you and overshadowing you. I love that picture of a shadow encompassing my life. No matter what you and I may face, God is powerful enough to change it all just by showing up.
It’s Moses and the Israelites standing on the shore of the Red Sea with the Egyptian army bearing down on them when the Red Sea parts. It’s Abraham about to sacrifice his son and a ram rustles in the bushes. It’s Gideon going to battle with 300 men, their trumpets, empty pitchers, and torches in hand, and defeating an army of many thousands. It’s Paul on the road to Damascus. Deus ex machina.
I’m so grateful that the Son of the Most High chose to insert Himself into the plot of our lives by showing up in a manger. May you experience His peace and His power as He overshadows you this Christmas.
From all of us here at Heritage Preparatory School, we hope you have a joyful, blessed, and very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!