The story has become so commonplace it’s easy to miss the wonder of it all. The transcendent God, who created everything, took on our humanity to live inside his own creation. (The painting of Joseph and Jesus at left is from A Man Like No Other.)
Nine months in a young woman’s womb, years in her care, growing alongside his siblings and then to discover that he came from a different realm. He took on the most thrilling, the most mundane, and the most painful aspect of the human experience and he did so as one who could live in God’s love and share it freely in the world. What’s more he allowed himself to be tortured and killed by those who could not appreciate who he was, all for the purpose of rescuing lost humanity and inviting us back inside a relationship with his Father.
If we understood that God actually lived here as Jesus of Nazareth, it would swallow up so many of our false views of God. Jesus was his exact representative. He wasn’t a junior partner or the better side of God. He mirrored exactly what his Father was like and that reality changes everything.
- If you see God as an offended deity out to destroy a world he hates, then you have yet to grasp the meaning of the Incarnation. Jesus wasn’t angry, not at the misunderstandings of his disciples, the unbelief of Mary and Martha, the emptiness of a woman at a well, the sin of an adulteress, nor the corruption of Zaccheus. He didn’t lash out at those who were lost in sin. He only challenged the religious leaders to reconsider the conclusions they had made about God and how they were holding people captive with their rules and regulations.
- If you think God can’t bear to look on sin, then you have yet to grasp the reality of the Incarnation. He lived in the midst of it and befriended those who were caught in it. He wasn’t repelled by sin; he was compelled with love to find us in all the places we got lost and offered us a hand to lead us back to the fullness of his love.
- If you believe God is offended or disappointed in you because of your failures, then you’ve yet to grasp the power of the Incarnation. He didn’t come to judge you for being broken, but to rescue you from that which seeks your destruction.
- If you believe that there are places or times that are more sacred than others, you have yet to grasp the wonder of the Incarnation. Jesus came to show us all of life is sacred, washing someone’s feet as much as reading the Scriptures, learning carpentry as much as preaching a sermon; praying in a closet or on the hills above Galilee even more than the temple itself.
- If you give into the feeling that you are all alone in your pain, you have yet to grasp the permanence of his Incarnation. He wasn’t just with us those thirty-three years, but was resurrected so that we could live in him today. He is still with us and every breath we take, we take in him.
He wanted to be where we live, not demand our audience at some sacred building or meeting. He came to ennoble all that we experience in life because he is there with us to show us how to truly live. This season we celebrate God with us! He shattered the divide between heaven and earth from heaven’s side so that we could no our worth to him.
The loving Father comes alongside you in your pain, your doubts, your sins, andy our joys inviting you to a better journey where learning to live in his love reverses all that evil has tried to do to destroy you. That is the meaning of his Incarnation and why we celebrate the amazing work of God to come and make himself known in our world.
Immanuel! God with us! And not just two thousand years ago, but every day since. He is still with you on this day wherever you are and loving you with all that he has. That reality changes everything.
(This painting also taken from A Man Like No Other)