This week we’re exploring the story of Jesus’ birth, and how it shows Jesus was God.
An angel said that Mary, a virgin, would have a child, and should name him Jesus (a pretty common name at the time). Most importantly for this week’s topic, Matthew wrote in his biography of Jesus that this was fulfilling a prophecy in the Book of Isaiah about a child born to a virgin, who would be called Emmanuel. Emmanuel means “God with us”.
This is an astounding claim that has real implications for us.
When humans were first created, we were meant to have a close, personal relationship with God. God was already a community in relationship – as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, all one God. We were meant to know this God, live in his way, and enjoy his love. But the first humans, our great grandparents many times over, broke off this relationship by choosing not to live in God’s way. That rebellion against God is called sin, which is so serious it is responsible for all the brokenness in our world, even death itself.
God’s given us many ways to rescue ourselves over the years, but we humans simply can’t rescue ourselves, we’re in too deep.
2000 years ago, God the Son took on human flesh, and when he did, he took on the name Jesus.
As early as his birth, he was recognized by a bunch of shepherds as the Messiah, or Christ, the rescuer that Israel had long anticipated. So they called him Jesus Christ.
In technical terms, this is called the incarnation, the idea that God took on flesh. Think of “in meat” but the Latin for meat is carne.
It means God is not distant, uncaring, or inactive. Knowing that Jesus is God and human means we have a living, active and caring God, who cares enough to take on human flesh, identify with our pain and brokenness in this world, and sacrifice himself out of care for us.
As Matthew goes on to tell the Christmas story, we see just how real and humbling this sacrifice was. He became a baby. Until I had a baby of my own, I didn’t realize how humbling this was for God to become a human baby. They’re helpless! Without help from others, they end up soiled, hungry and overtired. How undignified for the God of the universe, the creator of human life itself, to place himself and his very survival at the mercy of other human beings.
Beyond that, he was born to a mother who was now a social outcast, having had a baby outside marriage. He was born, essentially homeless, while his parents were forced to travel by oppressive Roman authorities. He was born in a stable, placed in a feed trough. He was forced into exile in his early years, as a refugee in Egypt.
This is not a dignified, royal birth and upbringing. But it is how God chose to come to us.
Question: Why do you think God came in such humble circumstances? What was he doing or saying?
Meeting with a Group? Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide[permalink append=”#comments”]Discuss the Challenge[/permalink]