Around Christmas, we hear a lot about, we talk a lot about, the divinity of Jesus. The glory. The power. God with us. Emmanuel. The Creator, now among the created.
Legions of angels sang about it. Now, so do we. “Oh come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.” “Let Earth receive her king.” “Hark, the herald angels sing glory to the newborn king.”
It’s easy enough to wrap our minds around the fact that Jesus is God, and worship him for his divinity. God, in fact, is holy. Pure. Loving. Deserving of our thankfulness, our praise, our respect. So is Jesus. Though a man, he embodies all of the characteristics of his Father. Of divinity.
Somehow, it’s tougher to worship Jesus for his humanity. Humanity, it seems, isn’t an attribute worthy of worship. Humanity steals. Rapes. Lies. Envies. Kills. Humanity is responsible for the Holocaust. For the Inquisition. For slavery. For the worst things imaginable.
Why would humanity, with all its inherent imperfections, flaws, and scars, be a quality that a perfect God, who can’t even coexist with sin, would want to take upon himself?
But yet, through some divine incarnation equation we can’t seem to wrap our finite minds around, Jesus became fully human and remained fully divine. He wasn’t half of each. The Incarnation wasn’t a fifty-fifty proposition. One hundred percent God and one hundred percent man? This doesn’t mathematically add up. The numbers don’t make sense. Propose an equation like this, and you’ll find yourself flunking out of algebra class.
Yet, the truth remains: The Word became flesh. Jesus took on our humanity. Not externally, as some sort of esoterically beautiful disguise, but through and through. What’s more, he didn’t become the best version of us we could imagine. Far from it. Though the King, he didn’t come on a throne but in a barn. Though the Lord, he didn’t come so that we could serve him. Instead, he washed our feet. Though our Priest, he didn’t make a grandiose show of religion. Instead, he humbly offered himself as our sacrifice. Though the Savior, he didn’t press a button up in heaven to magically forgive our sins, but instead took every ounce of the punishment that each one of us fully deserves.
He didn’t take an easy, entitled path through life, but instead chose a road that began with him being born to a poor, unwed teenage mother, that saw him fleeing to Egypt as a refugee, that found him hanging out with the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the cripples, and other societal misfits, and ultimately led him, charged as a criminal, to be executed on a cross. His life wasn’t perfect, but he was.
Now, each time we experience loneliness, despair, pain, temptation, anger, and brokenness, Jesus can relate. Not as a holy God looking down in pity, but as a very human God who has been there. Who has felt everything that we feel. Faced everything that we face. Endured everything that we endure.
Furthermore, Jesus came to redeem our humanity, not just to understand it. To show us what our lives, through the power of his Spirit, can look like. To help us to break the self-serving cycles we so easily fall into, and to become more and more like Jesus: loving the unlovable, giving when it hurts, living our lives with intentionality and purpose. Forgetting the things this world tells us will make us fully happy and fully human, and turning to the things Jesus cared most about: loving God, helping widows, sinners, and orphans, and helping to heal the brokenness so prevalent in a world that still longs to be made new.
The Son of Man was born to give us a new way to be human. Right here, right now, in the midst of this messy adventure we call life. Not only that, but Jesus died so that whenever we fall short, we can be forgiven, renewed, restored.
This is what we are made for.
He took care of everything. The hard way. Why? Because he is crazy about us. Because he longs to have a loving, lasting, life-changing relationship with us. This is why Jesus became Emmanuel, God With Us. This is all that he wants, all he has been trying to show us from the beginning of time.
For all our attempts at complicating things, the Gospel doesn’t get much simpler than this: God loves us more than anything, and will stop at nothing to lavish this love on us.
A barn and a bunch of donkeys couldn’t stop him from showing us the depths of his love. Neither could being nailed to a cross. What makes us think for a second that anything could separate us from a love like this?
Jesus came, not only as our divine Savior, but as our very human brother, to redeem our broken humanity. To love us, and to show us how to love others. To bring us heaven in the real world, not just pie in the sky bye and bye.
This is what Christmas is all about.
I have paraphrased and all but quoted Pastor Rick McKinley, Switchfoot (“New Way to be Human”), and Steven Curtis Chapman (“Heaven in the Real World”) in this post. Credit where credit is due!