My favorite name that the Bible uses to refer to Jesus is “Emmanuel”, which means “God with us“. It is meant very literally: Jesus is fully God, but also became fully human for our sake. Think through everything you know about any other god or any other religion. Some may tell of a deity who looked human temporarily for one reason or another. None, other than Christianity, claim a God who took on a second, non-divine, nature 1 and truly became a human being from birth to death 2.
Imagine the God who created the universe needing to have His diaper changed. That is such a completely ridiculous thought that I had trouble typing it! Yet…He did that, for us. Why? I see three main reasons given in the Bible. All are ultimately part of one overarching reason: He loves us. Within that context….
He wants us to know Him.
He doesn’t want to be a God who just sits somewhere up on high watching us scramble around. He wants to be an intimate part of our lives. In order to do so, He stooped down to our level, just as an adult gets down on the floor to interact with a child 3.
The radio commentator, Paul Harvey, made this point in a story that he read each Christmas. It describes a man trying to help a flock of birds who were afraid of him. The man wished that he could become a bird so that he could better communicate his good intentions. Read the story here, or listen here.
He wants to identify with us.
As God, the almighty infinite Creator, He would not be able to fully internalize what it is like to be human. How could God know what it feels like to be hungry or tired? How could He understand the pressure of too much to do and not enough time to do it? How could He realize just how tempting it is to want something that you shouldn’t have?
But as a human being, Jesus fully understands these things. The writer of Hebrews says: “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) What deity of any other religion chooses to be hungry, tired, stressed and tempted so that he can feel what his followers do?
We need a human, but perfect, Savior.
God’s love is matched only by His justice, and His justice is matched only by His love.
- To satisfy justice, the penalty of true death, separation from God, has to be paid for each sinner who has ever rebelled against God (therefore, each person who has ever lived).
- To satisfy love, God couldn’t simply leave each of us to pay our own penalty. That would mean Hell with no alternative available.
- Only a human (like us) who had no sin of His own (unlike us) could pay the penalty on our behalf.
Jesus, human but also divine, is the only intersection that can solve the problem. In Hebrews again:
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.Hebrews 2:14-15
Christmas is when we have a special occasion to remember the birth of this God/Man, to remember why He came, and to remember what He has done for us. That is cause for celebration!