Summary: Christmas Day: What are the implications of God becoming man? We explore this question in this message.
Jesus’ birth had been prophesied for centuries prior to his coming into the world. One reason that many devout and religious people missed his arrival on that first Christmas Day was because He came “wrapped” in a way that they didn’t expect.
Many were waiting for a Messiah that would come with all the trappings of power and glory. Instead, Messiah came wrapped in swaddling clothes – strips of cloth - just tatters really. Instead of a grand palace – Messiah came into the world through a stable and used a feeding trough for a bassinette. Instead of a mighty warrior – Messiah came as a Baby, needing to be fed and changed.
The gods of many religions are perceived as cold, distant and aloof with only a passing interest in the matters of this world. It is unthinkable that these deities would deign to become entangled with the mere matters of mortals much less with our humanity. And yet, this is one of the things that makes our God so very different. He not only has an interest in our world, in our lives, but He took them on – He became human.
When I was a boy, I would spend lots of time with dad. He was a trucker and I would often ride with him. But riding with dad could be a bit unnerving. Not because he wasn’t a good driver, but because when he drove somewhere, dad would not take the well-known roads. He seemed to always drive on the back roads. One trip I made with him from the Rio Grande Valley to San Antonio was memorable. We started driving at night. The whole way he took only back-roads and farm-to-market roads to get to our destination.
For me, as a youngster, it was a bit scary. Apart from our own truck’s headlights, there weren’t hardly any other bright spots on the road. We could have counted all the other cars on the road on one hand. But in spite of the scariness of that night drive, I felt secure because dad was driving. You see, he had made the trip many times. In fact, when he was a young boy, just after the turn of the last century, he made the trip several times on foot and by horse drawn wagon. His skill at navigating off-the-beaten-path was confirmed when we made that last turn and were finally close enough to see the faint glow of the San Antonio street lights.
What does it mean that God became like us? First, we know that He understands what we go through every day of our lives. You see, He’s made the trip before. He came to share in the very same drudgery that we endure. He has wept like we weep; He has hungered like we hunger; He saw death take those that He loved; He saw how disease ravaged people; He knew weariness and pain and suffering.
What does it mean that God became like us? He knows what injustice is about. Ever felt betrayed by a friend? Jesus had a friend named Judas. Ever been accused of doing something that you didn’t do? Jesus knows what that’s like. Ever had to pay the price for somebody else’s failures? Jesus wore a crown of thorns and hung on a cross for our sins. Because He has had to go through so much pain, He identifies fully with us. And to be able to do this, He had to become Immanuel – “God with Us”.
What does it mean that God became like us? When God promises to wipe away our tears, it isn’t without understanding the hurts that cause them - Jesus lived them. And when God promises to come to us to bring peace and joy, it isn’t in a vacuum, He knows both from our perspective. When God promises to give us forgiveness, He does so knowing the high cost of that free forgiveness, because Jesus paid it.
What does it mean that God became like us? When Jesus talks about giving everlasting life to us, it is an offer from the author of life. When He says, “I am the Resurrection and the Life,” these are words from one Who has risen from the dead and Who has lived since before time began. He is the ancient of Days, whose origin is of old. (Micah 5:2) Within his grasp He holds eternity, and yet He took on our humanity to redeem us.
What does it mean that God became like us? This incredible truth tells us that our humanity is not the problem, because God chose to wear it. The creation is not the problem, because Jesus chose to cleave Himself to a created humanity forever. Work and the things we do - our daily, routine lives are not the problem, Jesus did them too. House cleaning, or driving the pick-up truck, or digging the ditch, or balancing the budget, or directing a large group of people - those aren’t the problem either. Christ becoming one of us tells us that humanity and human life are not the problem.