December 25, 2022
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When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth.
And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.
There are so many things about the Christmas story that surprise us.
That the God who fills every corner of the universe should squeeze himself into human form is astonishing.
That Jesus would be so human? Shocking!
Yet it says in Colossians 2:9, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.”
When Jesus was born and as he grew, and even as he started his public ministry, no one questioned his humanity.
The shepherds and the wisemen, and later on the disciples and the crowds, all of them saw and heard for themselves.
They touched Jesus and walked beside him. They ate meals with him. It was a given that he was human.
But as David Mathis says in his book The Christmas We Didn’t Expect, “By the second generation of Christians and beyond, it was a given that Jesus was divine.
After all, they worshipped him. And as time went by, within the church at least, the truth about Jesus’ humanity was soon neglected and even denied.”
Mathis insists that we not make the same mistake. He says, “[Christmas] is a ripe opportunity for reflecting on not just the easy parts of the incarnation, but also the uncomfortable parts of what it means that our Lord is fully human.
For not only did the Son of God have – and still has – a fully human body, but also a fully human mind, heart, and will.”
Throughout the gospels Jesus had deep emotions. He was sorrowful, he was deeply moved, he was greatly troubled.
He prayed with loud cries and tears. We also read that Jesus was exceedingly joyful. As John Calvin once said, “Christ has put on our feelings along with our flesh.”
Jesus also has a human mind. The scriptures say he increased in wisdom. He didn’t start with it all.
He told his disciples that he didn’t know the day of his return. Here we have one person who has both an infinite, divine mind, and a finite, human mind. As much as a paradox as
it is, the Bible affirms that Jesus both knows all things as God, and doesn’t know all things as man.
It’s not a contradiction (as David Mathis explains), it’s a particular glory of this God-man, Jesus.
Perhaps the most difficult thing to grasp about Jesus being fully human is that Jesus has a human will.
There in the Garden of Gethsemane he prays to his Father, nevertheless “not as I will, but as you will.” That is a mystery beyond our grasp.
Jesus whom we celebrate this week is like us in every way, body, heart, mind and will.
Jesus is like us in every respect except… without sin. He took on our humanity not only at the first Christmas, but he took it all the way to the cross.
And then, he took it into heaven as our pioneer, right into the presence of God. I encourage you to read more about this idea in The Christmas We Didn’t Expect.
Today, on Christmas Eve, marvel at the mystery that Jesus took on a human body to save our bodies.
He took on a human mind to save our minds. He took on a human will so that he might rescue our broken will that is so prone to wander.
Jesus became man in the fullest so that he might save us in the fullest. It’s what makes for a true Merry Christmas!
Pray with me: Thank you God for this great mystery of how Jesus is fully divine and fully human.
Thank you, Jesus, for living a sanctified life so that I can be sanctified and pioneering my journey to heaven so that I can know the way.
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