And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…John 1:14
The when and how of Christ’s birth are provided in the Gospels. Timing, background, the characters, and the sequence of events is told collectively by Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Each version is slightly different, but complimentary to the whole narrative.
But as to the why, that is more fully taken up in other parts of the Bible. Why Jesus left His glorious estate to take on human flesh and live on this planet some two thousand years ago via Bethlehem is a question that is consistently answered throughout Scripture. In some places, the explanation is cryptic and vague. In other places, it is plain and simple.
In Hebrews 2, the reason why Jesus became a man is plain and simple.
There the writer is trying to help some burned-out believers keep going in the faith. Some of them had started questioning why the Son of God would ever lower Himself to become a man. They were starting to second-guess their decision to join the Jesus movement.
But the writer assured them that, in fact, it was a very good thing that Jesus – the eternal Son of God – arrived in our broken world and took on a physical body like our’s. They could be thankful that the Son of God has a birthday like us for at least three reasons:
- If Jesus remained in Spirit form, He couldn’t bleed and die; it would take a physical body to make atonement for our sins. While Jesus did exist before Bethlehem as the second member of the eternal Trinity, He didn’t have a flesh-and-blood body until conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin, Mary. Once a man, and a sinless man at that, He could offer Himself as the perfect and final sacrifice, our substitute on the Cross. “Therefore he [Jesus] had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” (Hebrews 2:17)
- To defeat the Devil and conquer death, it would take a literal body that could die and resurrect from the dead. To beat the Antagonist at his own game, Jesus had to embrace humanity (while not losing his divinity). A virtual solution would not do. He literally died so that He could literally resurrect and give the same hope to us. “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil…” (Hebrews 2:14)
- Since Jesus has a body and has faced the challenges that go with it, He can help folks like us who are up against trials and temptations of all kinds. Just like a doctor who has personally experienced sickness is more compassionate toward the afflicted, so Jesus has been where we are, knows exactly what we need, and how to help us. Exhaustion, hunger, pain, anxiety, depression, loneliness, tempation to do the unthinkable…Jesus faced all of it. “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18)
As you celebrate the birth of Christ, let these reasons for the incarnation only add to your celebration. And if you have never personally made room in your heart for Jesus, may today be the day you invite Him. Do so and you will find that He is the greatest gift you ever received.
From Devotions on the Run, may God bless you and yours with a very Merry Christmas!
It’s a new day with God. Run with it.