The Mystery of God With Us
Christmas Sunday. We celebrate the First Advent of Jesus, son of man, son of God.
Jesus was the Son of God, fully divine, sharing all the attributes of the Father in heaven.
The most direct way to avoid distractions during Advent is to focus on the godhead:
The Father sent His unique son to earth.
Jesus came fully divine and took on a human body. He was all God and all human.
The Spirit anointed, animated, guarded, and guided the Son in His 30 years here.
We usually have difficulty imagining all this.
Silent Night has made us think that the baby Jesus just sort of lay quietly in the manger; Away In A Manger tells us “no crying He made.”
If you’ve ever attended a birth, you will remember that there’s nothing quiet about it. The mother is not silent; once the baby appears, the baby is not silent. That night is LOUD with pain, with groaning, then with crying, with hunger, with exhaustion.
This birth was a natural birth like all typical births we experience with our babies.
It truly was a HOLY NIGHT, but it wasn’t a SILENT ONE.
WHEN SUCH THINGS ARE ADDED TO THE STORY, WE PROBABLY INTEND TO HIGHLIGHT THE DEITY OF JESUS, TO OVEREMPHASIZE THE DIVINE NATURE OF JESUS.
You will NOT hear me UNDEREMPHASIZE THE DEITY OF JESUS, apart from a mental lapse, one that should be publicly challenged!! If Jesus were not FULLY DIVINE, then I’ve wasted my life.
Our Christmas intentions are noble, but misguided. The story is vital and does not need enhancement.
Luke 2:6–7 NASB
“And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
The story relates a PHYSICAL, natural and normal process. Jesus was born with all the elements of humanity, in its purest state.
There are many benefits to understanding the fully-human nature of Jesus.
1. His birth was the same sort of birth we experienced; He became like us.
Hebrews 2:17–18 NASB
“Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”
This is not a new tension. In the FOURTH CENTURY, people from the Emperor on down were debating the Nature of Jesus.
…Gregory of Nazianius (329-89 AD.) wrote: ‘If anyone has put his trust in Him as a man without a human mind, he is really bereft of mind, and quite unworthy of salvation. For that which He has not assumed He has not healed; but that which is united to His Godhead is also saved. If only half Adam fell, then that which Christ assumes and saves may be half also; but if the whole of his nature fell, it must be united to the whole nature of Him that was begotten, and so be saved as a whole.
2. His life was lived with the same challenges we face.
Hebrews 2:9 NASB
“But we do see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.”
3. His death secured for us all that was promised.
Gregory the Great (540-604), ‘first pope’, bishop of Rome:
“…Guilt can be extinguished only by a penal offering to justice. But it would contradict the idea of justice, if for the sin of a rational being like man, the death of an irrational animal should be accepted as a sufficient atonement. Hence, a man must be offered as the sacrifice for man; so that a rational victim may be slain for a rational criminal. But how could a man, himself stained with sin, be an offering for sin? Hence a sinless man must be offered. But what man descending in the ordinary course would be free from sin? Hence, the Son of God must be born of a virgin, and become man for us. He assumed our nature without our corruption.
…a victim without sin, and able both to die by virtue of his humanity, and to cleanse the guilty, upon grounds of justice.”
“If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus Every Knee Should Bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;”
NIBC, FF Bruce
Irenaeus of Lyons (ca. 140-202 AD.) ‘…There is therefore…one God the Father, and one Christ Jesus our Lord, who came by means of the whole dispensational arrangements and gathered together all things in himself. But in every respect, too, he is man, the formation of God: and thus he took up man into himself, the invisible becoming visible, the incomprehensible being made comprehensible, the impassable becoming capable of suffering, and the word being made man, thus summing up all things in himself: so that as in super-celestial, spiritual and invisible things, the Word of God is supreme, so also in things visible and corporeal he might possess the supremacy and, taking to himself the preeminence, as well as constituting himself head of the church, he might draw all things to himself at the proper time.’