Where has 2012 gone? Another year almost in the record books, but we still have one more month to go. December is an amazingly busy time around the church. There is a lot going on, but one of the realities my mind turns to around this time of year is the fact that Jesus, our Lord and Savior, was born in the home of ordinary and humble people. I think that we take for granted that there was not anything overly remarkable about Jesus earthly parents. I don’t know if Mary and Joseph fully understood what it meant that the baby born in the stable that first Christmas night would be the Messiah. I am not fully convinced that they fully could comprehend what God was going to do through their faithful obedience. What they did know was that this little, precious bundle of joy was going to change their lives forever! I think every parent understands this even if they are not sure how.
The mystery of Advent (what us church nerds call this time of the year) is that God became like one of us. The technical term for this is “Incarnation.” When we talk about Jesus coming into the world as a baby we are saying that Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, took upon himself something that he did not have before the moment of conception! The Trinity existed as spirit. But, after Jesus descended into the womb of Mary he no longer exists in this way. The great miracle and mystery of this truth is that Jesus voluntarily confined himself to the body of a human being so that we can enter into fellowship with the Father.
The incarnation is the single, most original thought in religious history!
I took the following picture yesterday morning before our early service. I called it “The Irony of Advent.” The two most important celebrations of the Christian faith are the Resurrection of Jesus the Christ AND his birth. The serve as the bookends of the Gospel. Without the resurrection there is no salvation. But, without the incarnation there is no Savior!
I would like to invite you to think about what that means. Before his birth, Jesus preexisted as a spirit. Now, from the time of his birth he exists for all eternity as the God-man. He is the first-born of many brother (and sisters). He is our intercessor and he is our advocate before the Father. Peter Lewis in his book The Glory of Christ makes this amazing point. This is an amazing articulation of what it means that Jesus became like us.
“It comes to this: for our salvation it is as necessary that the Son of God be truly and fully human as that He be truly and fully divine. If this humanity is less than full and true, then he is inadequate as a mediator, incompetent as a sympathizer and disqualified as a redeemer. If (save for sin) He is not all that we are in our uttermost humanity, the He cannot perfectly represent us either in His life or in His death. If He does not descend to us from God, the He cannot lift us up to God.” (pg. 142)
God, who is perfect and who knows everything experienced the dirt that he spoke into existence between toes that he designed. He breathed air in through nostrils that he formed into lungs that he fashioned so that blood that he had invented would be oxygenated. The amazing theological reality of the God-man was that God would have to become a baby first.
I don’t know about you, but that just blows me away. For the first time in the existence of God, God experienced something he never had before. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t like baby Jesus? However, one of the main reasons that I like baby Jesus is in that tiny bundle of life God entered into our experience as human beings. For the first time God understood the “creaturelyness” (yeah, I made that up!) of living and dying upon this floating planet. It was like the cosmic version of “Undercover Boss.” If that doesn’t mess with your head, I don’t know what will.
I know most of us, if not all of us, like baby Jesus. My prayer during this season is that we like, or better yet love, baby Jesus for the right reasons.