Judging by the size of the package waiting for me under the Christmas tree Dec. 25, 1953, my dreams had not come true. The one gift I’d been hoping my parents would give me for 10 long years was nowhere to be seen. Christmas had come again, and though I’d wanted a motorcycle all my born days, at 16 years old I still didn’t have one.
After my mother reminded us, as usual, that this was Jesus’ birthday, and we prayed together, I reached under the tree and picked up my gift. No bigger than a book, the weight of it surprised me.
What in the world could be that heavy? I thought. Ripping through paper and ribbon, I found a stack of magazines with a note on top.
I’m in the driveway, it read.
For a split second I stared at the words in shock and my knees went weak. Then, heart hammering, I ran to the door and opened it. What I saw literally knocked me off my feet.
There in the driveway sat a 1952 Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle.
Excited doesn’t even begin to describe what I felt at that moment. Scrambling up from the porch where I’d fallen, I thanked Mama and Daddy, grabbed my jacket, jumped on my new motorcycle and hit the street. By the time I got back home that night I’d ridden more than a hundred frigid miles and my face was frozen into an ear-to-ear grin.
Talk about a wonderful Christmas! I was so thrilled about that motorcycle I thought it would be the gift that topped them all. But I turned out to be mistaken. As I discovered some years later, God has given us all a gift that’s far, far better.
He’s given us His Son, Jesus—and what God has done for us through Him is a thousand times more thrilling than any other Christmas gift could ever be.
More Than You Ever Dreamed
“But Brother Copeland,” you might say, “I’ve heard about the birth of Jesus all my life, and though I’m glad it happened, I just don’t get that excited about it anymore.”
That’s probably because there are some things about it you haven’t heard. You’re like I was when I saw that present under the Christmas tree: You don’t yet realize all that you’ve been given. You haven’t fully discovered that in Jesus you’ve received more than you could ever dream.
You can get a glimpse of what I’m talking about in John 1, where the Bible describes the birth of Jesus like this: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men…. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (verses 1-4, 14).
Those verses aren’t usually associated with Christmas because they don’t focus on the natural facts about Jesus. They don’t depict Him the way people generally think of Him at this time of year, as a baby lying in a manger. Instead, they reveal who He truly was and is: an eternal member of the Godhead, the Creator of the universe, the divine light of mankind, and the living WORD of Almighty God.
When Jesus was born, He might have looked small on the outside, like just an ordinary infant. But on the inside He was The WORD of God made flesh, as fully human as any man who ever lived, and yet at the same time the very incarnation of God.
The very thought of it is staggering—almost more than we can comprehend. But, amazingly enough, it’s not the whole story. Tucked right into the middle of this passage in John is something about Jesus that’s even more astounding. According to verses 12 and 13: “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Read those verses again and think about them for a moment. Do you see how they refer to those of us who are believers? They talk about our new birth in the same way they talk about the birth of Jesus! They bring together those of us who are born of the Spirit, with Him who was born of the Spirit, revealing a divine union between Him and us that puts us on an equal basis.
“Why, that’s ridiculous!” someone might say. “We aren’t equal with Jesus!”
Yes, as startling as it might seem, the New Testament says we are. It declares in one place after another that even though Jesus is the King of kings and LORD of lords:
We who’ve been joined to The LORD through the new birth are “one spirit” with Him. (1 Corinthians 6:17)
- We’ve put on the new man and been renewed “after the image of him that created him.” (Colossians 3:10)
- We’ve been raised up together with Him, and seated together with Him in heavenly places. (Ephesians 2:6)
I’ve studied those scriptures and others like them for a long time, so I’m very familiar with them. In fact, I preach them all the time. But recently, The LORD said something to me about them that actually startled me. He said that we, as born-again believers, and Jesus are identical twins.
That’s right—identical twins.
In 48 years of ministry, I’d never before heard The LORD say such a thing. Yet I knew right away it was true, because 1 Peter 1:23 says we’ve been “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”
Everyone knows that when two people are born of the exact same physical seed, they’re born as identical twins. So what The LORD was saying to me was that the same is true in the realm of the spirit. Although we, as believers, are physically and externally different from one another, on the inside our spirit being is exactly like Jesus. We’re all His identical twins—born of the same seed, conceived by the very same process, by the same Father…which means the Christmas story isn’t only about Jesus.
It’s also about us.
The Greatest Story Ever Told and the Question That’s Rarely Asked
You probably remember how the story begins. According to Luke 1, the angel Gabriel appeared to a virgin named Mary. He told her she was blessed and highly favored of The LORD.
And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end (verses 29-33).
Mary responded to this amazing announcement with a simple question. She said, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (verse 34). She didn’t ask this because she doubted what the angel was telling her. On the contrary, she had listened very intently and believed what he said.
She just wanted to be sure she fully understood what was going to happen. Was she going to have this Son after she was married? Or did God have something else in mind? Those were fair questions; and the angel answered them. He said: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God…. For with God nothing shall be impossible” (verses 35, 37).
It’s important to note here that Gabriel wasn’t speaking on his own when he said these things. His words didn’t originate with him. As the archangel who stood in the presence of Almighty God, he was simply delivering The WORD of The LORD. He was just saying what the Father said.
That’s what Jesus did when He was on earth. As He said in John 14:10, “The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.” Here, Gabriel was doing the same. He was speaking not of himself but on behalf of God.
Upon hearing his words, Mary responded by saying, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38).
Most people have heard or read this portion of the Christmas story many times, but there’s one question they rarely ask about it: When, exactly, did Gabriel’s words to Mary actually come to pass? At what point did the Holy Spirit hover over her, sow the seed of God’s living WORD in her womb and cause her to conceive?
I’ll tell you when it happened.
It happened the instant Mary yielded herself to The LORD, believed His WORD and released her faith with the words of her mouth. It happened when she said, in essence, “I’m all Yours, LORD! I belong to You. Be it done unto me, Sir, as You have spoken.”
In that moment, Mary gave herself in faith to God and He gave His Son. The Holy Spirit, who had been hovering there in that room, brought God’s WORD to pass and His WORD became flesh in Mary’s womb.
From the Only Begotten to the Firstborn
“Brother Copeland, I agree that’s a wonderful story. But it’s about Gabriel, Mary and Jesus, not about believers like you and me.”
Yes it is, and here’s why: The same thing that happened to Mary when she believed God’s WORD and gave herself in faith to Him happened to us when we got saved. The moment we believed The WORD and said, “Jesus, come into my heart; I receive You as my LORD and my Savior,” the Holy Spirit hovered over us and implanted the incorruptible seed of God’s eternal WORD in our spirit and we were born again.
That means we’re as much born of the Spirit as Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Our spiritual DNA is The WORD of the living God.
“But what about John 1:14?” someone might ask. “It refers to Jesus as the only begotten of the Father.”
Certainly it does—and He was the only begotten when He was born on the earth. But once He was crucified and resurrected, He was never again called God’s only begotten Son. From that point on, He was called the “firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18).
Why? Because through the work of the Cross and the triumph of the Resurrection, He made it possible for many sons and daughters to be born into God’s family. By destroying the power of sin that had dominated mankind since the Fall of Adam and reconciling the world to God (2 Corinthians 5:19), He became not only God’s Son but the Big Brother of all who would put their faith in Him.
As a result, ever since the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit has been hovering over the earth, just like He hovered over Mary. He’s been present, ready to bring God’s WORD to pass for anyone who will believe it and say like she did, “Be it unto me according to thy word!”
If you’re a believer, the Holy Spirit was there hovering over you the day you were born again, and now He’s not only hovering over you, He dwells within you. He’s never stagnant. He’s always moving. He’s always waiting for you to get God’s WORD in your heart and in your mouth so He can bring it to pass. Like Jesus said, it’s “the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works” (John 14:10).
If you need healing, you can speak The WORD of healing and the Holy Spirit will move on it and cause it to be made flesh in your body. If you’re in financial bondage of some kind, you can speak The WORD of prosperity and the Holy Spirit will move on it and make you free. If you’re a parent, you can speak The WORD over your children and the Holy Spirit will move on it and it will be made flesh in them.
This is the good news! It’s what the angel of The LORD was proclaiming to the shepherds who were watching over their flocks out in the fields of Bethlehem:
Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:10-14).
Personally, I believe the angels that showed up at the end of that passage were so excited about this message they just exploded onto the scene. They couldn’t contain themselves. They were absolutely delighted to be delivering the news that the war between heaven and earth was over; God had made peace with all mankind and released His goodwill toward them!
Of course, at the time, even the angels couldn’t understand the full extent of what was happening. Much of God’s plan was still hidden from them. But as we look back at it now, we can see the whole wonderful truth: On that first Christmas day, God’s perfect Sacrifice had been born into the earth. Jesus, the living WORD, had come to pay the sin debt for all men forever. Within 33 years, His blood would be shed; He would be raised from the dead; and any man, woman or child on earth would have the right to believe on Him and become a new creation. No matter how sinful a person had been, he could receive Jesus as Savior and his old life would pass away, all things would become new and in his spirit he could become exactly like Jesus—His identical spiritual twin.
Talk about thrilling! Just thinking about it makes me feel like it’s Christmas 1953 all over again. But there’s one big difference: The Triumph I found waiting for me in the driveway when I was 16 years old is now long gone. But the triumph I found in Jesus will last forever. I’ll be riding with Him through the ages to come, living by faith and speaking His WORD with a grin on my face that will never fade. “Thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ…” (2 Corinthians 2:14).
If Jesus is your LORD and Savior, you will too. So go ahead and get excited. Celebrate the birth of Jesus like it’s your own—and live for eternity in a dream come true.