I have been a few places where English was not the primary language. When Claire and I visited Kenya, if it were not for Joseph and Mary Murupus, we would have been lost both physically and linguistically as well. Most of the people we met there in the villages spoke Swahili and their own tribal language, but no English. We had Joseph and Mary with us, however, and so we could understand what people were telling us.
To some extent, this was the situation before Jesus was born. The people in the Old Testament were in grave danger because they kept on rebelling against God. It was different from our little scenario though in that they knew what the danger was and why they were in danger. They were in danger because God was punishing them for their sin and rebellion. However, they couldn’t get out of it and in many cases didn’t want to. The language of God they heard was that God loves them but God was also punishing them for sin.
However, with the coming of Jesus, the situation changed completely. Hebrews 1:1-2 says, “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” When Jesus came, God changed languages in communicating with his people. In his book, Cultural Intelligence, David Livermore writes, “Very literally, the author’s words could be translated ‘God has spoken to us in Son.’ God’s language is Jesus. God most clearly communicates who he is through Jesus. Just as many Thai people use the Thai language to communicate with one another, and German people speak in German, God speaks ‘in Son.’ The language of God is Jesus.”
God saw people on earth struggling in their sin and their inability to obey and so he chose to come to us, literally to become one of us, in Jesus. He speaks to us “in Son,” the language we understand. Now we still rebel and sin against God but when God spoke to us “in Son” he said that the punishment for our sins is now removed. We can now live with and for God through the Holy Spirit because of Jesus. And that makes all the difference in the world!
It’s December; the month of extraordinary busyness that comes along with the holiday season. As you celebrate Christmas this year, don’t just remember that it’s Jesus’ birthday or that Jesus is the reason for the season. Make sure you take the time to remember, and humbly thank God for, Jesus and that God has spoken to us “in Son” so that we could not only understand God but that we can also live with him in peace.