On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that “US health regulators cleared use of a COVID-19 pill from Pfizer Inc., the first drug that newly infected patients can now take at home to stay out of the hospital.” This is great news.
Here’s even better news, potentially: “US Army Creates Single Vaccine Against All COVID & SARS Variants, Researchers Say.” The article reports: “Within weeks, scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research expect to announce that they have developed a vaccine that is effective against COVID-19 and all its variants, even Omicron, as well as previous SARS-origin viruses that have killed millions of people worldwide.”
It explains: “Unlike existing vaccines, Walter Reed’s [approach] uses a soccer ball-shaped protein with twenty-four faces for its vaccine, which allows scientists to attach the spikes of multiple coronavirus strains on different faces of the protein.” Army researchers focused on the fact that “viruses mutate, there will be variants that emerge, future viruses that may emerge in terms of new species.” As a result, “Our platform and approach will equip people to be prepared for that.”
Imagine a single vaccine that works against all COVID-19 variants, present and future. Does it seem too much to hope for? Have you been so conditioned by two years of pandemic pain that you’re not ready to hope again?
If so, join me in a moment’s reflection on the truth of the holiday we’ll celebrate tomorrow.
“He leapt because of the mystery that was there”
After Mary agreed to become the mother of the Son of God, she went to meet with her relative Elizabeth. The Bible says, “When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!'” (Luke 1:39–42).
In a sermon on this text, St. Ambrose of Milan (339–397) observed, “Elizabeth was the first to hear the voice but her son John was the first to feel the effects of grace. She heard as she hears in the natural course of things; he leapt because of the mystery that was there. She sensed the coming of Mary, he the coming of the Lord—the woman knew the woman, the child knew the child.”
Why did John leap in his mother’s womb in the presence of Jesus in his mother’s womb?
Here’s one answer. When John grew up and began his work “to bear witness about the light” of Christ (John 1:6), the day came when Jesus approached him to be baptized. John responded: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (v. 29).
To become the sacrificial “Lamb of God” who takes away all our sin, Jesus had to bear that sin on himself. He had to enter fully into our human condition, feeling all we feel and facing all we face. As a result, “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
Because he committed no sin, he owed no debt for sin and could pay our debt instead. As a result, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (v. 16).
“He has dealt bountifully with me”
The birth of Christ into our fallen condition is the birth of hope for our fallen condition. As I noted yesterday, Jesus’ incarnation shows that he knows us as we truly are, and yet he loves us anyway.
To expand on that thought for a moment: Jesus knows me better than I can know myself. He sees all the past sins and failures I have forgotten (or tried to forget) as if they were being committed today. He sees all the future sins and failures I obviously cannot see as if they were being committed today as well.
He sees my unconscious self I can barely glimpse. He sees the truth of my attitudes and thoughts, words and actions, looking beyond the excuses I make to others and to myself and seeing me as I truly am.
And yet he loves me as I am. He forgives every sin I confess (1 John 1:9) and forgets all he forgives (Isaiah 43:25). If his return tarries, he heals all my diseases, including COVID-19, either in this life or the next. “He has dealt bountifully with me” (Psalm 13:6) in the past and will lead me into his “perfect” will in the future (Romans 12:2).
All of this is true because of Christmas.
“Something bigger than our whole world”
C. S. Lewis was right: “Once in our world, a stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world.” Now that “something” has made his stable in your soul. And he is ready to transform your whole world.
As Rick Warren noted, Christmas offers us “peace with God, peace with others, and peace in your own heart.”
Why do you need such peace with God? With others? With yourself?
Would you meet the Prince of Peace in the manger of your heart today?
NOTE: If you would like to offer the peace and provision of Jesus to someone in need, I encourage you to read Rebecca Walls’ article on our website and find a practical way to help wherever you live.