Beneath the trappings of Christmas, the family gatherings, the presents, colored lights, decorated trees, and classic stories is one simple truth. God became human and was named Jesus. This mystery is called the incarnation. The truth about baby born in a Bethlehem stable is both easy to envision and nearly impossible to grasp.
The Gospels of Matthew and Luke each record parts of the story. How a virgin engaged to be married became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. They record the reason for Mary and Joseph to travel to Bethlehem. The humble birth of Jesus in a stable. Of shepherds, angels, stars, and wise men from the east with precious gifts. Perhaps the testimony of the angels says it best…
“That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”” (Luke 2:8–14, NLT)
We know well the story of Christmas but struggle to grasp its true importance. Jesus left heaven, left infinity, left the power, the might, and the totality of being God the Son to become human. A helpless baby reliant on his parents. Fully grasping this is impossible. In some ways, it would be like you or I becoming an ant. Or moving from a three-dimensional world to a two-dimensional world. But even those fall far short. God became flesh. Infinite became finite. All-powerful, all-knowing, all-present God became limited, became part of His very own creation. Yet, never stopped being God.
Jesus contained a dual nature. The baby born in Bethlehem was 100% human and 100% God. The Gospels contain this evidence. They record Jesus’ humanness in his birth, his hunger, weariness, agony, and death. The Gospels also record Jesus’ Godlikeness in his keen insight into the thoughts of others, the miracles, the knowledge of future events, and His resurrection.
Jesus faced temptation, encountered grief, is acquainted with sorrow, knew lack and want, felt compassion and anger. Whatever we face, Jesus faced it too. He was bullied, falsely accused, mocked, beaten, harassed, pressured by peers, pushed by enemies, tested by the powerful, and faced the expectations of others. His family didn’t understand him. His hometown rejected him. In short, Jesus experienced everything we may also experience.
But Jesus didn’t become human to find out what we are like. This wasn’t a King becomes beggar moment to see how the other half lives. Jesus had a mission, a purpose to connect us to God. To bridge the divide caused by sin, to be the relatable connecting point between each one of us and God the Father, to inaugurate the Kingdom of God on earth. That mission is the focus of our next entry in our look at the basics of the Christian faith.