Here’s a little something I wrote for our Christmas Concert at church. Several people have asked me for it, so I thought I’d post it here.

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It’s only in the incarnation that humanity bears the image of God the way God intended in the beginning. “If you’ve seen me,” Jesus said, “you’ve seen the Father.” As Paul wrote, “He is the image of the invisible God.” In Hebrews, “He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature.” None of these things could be said about him if he was not a man. When we say Jesus is “fully human,” we rarely stop to notice that he’s actually more fully human than we are—because he perfectly bears the image of God, which is broken and obscured in us. Because Jesus was born, we can see and know God’s true intention in the creation of humanity, which was to put himself on display in us. Without the baby Jesus, God remains invisible and unknown—both to us and through us. Without the baby Jesus, what it means to be a human being would be lost forever. It’s in the incarnation of the Son of God that humanity bears the image of God. The incarnation changes everything.

It’s only in the incarnation that God shares in the whole human experience, including the suffering of alienation from God. “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8). The Son of God knows firsthand what it is to be one of us—even to the extent of death—to the extent of alienation from the Father—some kind of disruption in the eternal joyful fellowship of the Trinity! Because Jesus was born, there is no man or woman or boy or girl who can say, “God doesn’t understand what I’m going through.” Without the baby Jesus, God remains distant and unsympathetic and angry. Without the baby Jesus, we remain as we are: dying and alone. In the incarnation, God shares and understands the whole human condition. The incarnation changes everything.

It’s only in the incarnation that Grace and Truth—that Justice and Mercy—have a meeting place: in the atoning sacrifice of the human Jesus. “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us,” John wrote, “and we beheld His glory, the glory of the Only Begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth … And of his fullness we have all received, and grace on top of grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came about through Jesus Christ.” And Paul wrote to the Romans: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith … for the demonstration of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” To die for us, Jesus must be one of us—one with no sin of his own. The blood pumping through the veins and lighting up the face of that tiny one in the manger is the same blood that is poured out on the ground at the foot of the cross. Because Jesus was born, God can declare sinners righteous and still call himself righteous. Without the baby Jesus, God is all truth and justice, and no grace and mercy. Without the baby Jesus, we are all, as Jesus said to Nicodemus, “condemned already.” In the incarnation, Grace and Truth find a meeting place. The incarnation changes everything.

It’s only in the incarnation that it makes sense to speak of a resurrection. The risen Savior is not an angel or a spirit or a life force or, as some say, just a compelling idea. The risen Savior is a man—the same man whose mother laid him in a feedbox when he was born—the same man who went missing when he was twelve because, as he put it “I had to be in my Father’s house”—the same man who begged his friends to pray with him the night before he died, but then they all deserted him. It is the incarnate Christ—not some ghost—who is now seated at the right hand of the Father. The Son of God remains one of us, and “ever lives to make intercession for us.” Because Jesus was born, He is the firstborn of the resurrection. Without the baby Jesus, Christ is not raised from the dead, “and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” Without the baby Jesus, there is no hope of eternal life—no future. The incarnation changes everything.

When Jesus was born, nobody noticed—except a few people to whom God made special announcements, and one paranoid politician. Jesus was born in a shed by the side of the road in a backwater town.  But the fact that “God has sent his only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him” is the single most important event in all of human history. Because Jesus became one of us, we can know what it really means to be one of us. Because Jesus became one of us, we know that we are not alone in our suffering. Because Jesus became one of us, we can experience the blessing of God’s lovingkindness instead of the nightmare of his wrath. Because Jesus became one of us, we have hope in the promise that we will be like him in his resurrection. The incarnation changes everything.

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