The miracle and glory of Christmas was the wondrous condescension of God in becoming man. “Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16).
This truth, accepted by reason, is the key that unlocks the gospel. Jesus was not a man who became God; He was God revealed in human personality. “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things” (Colossians 1:19-20, NIV).
“Cur Deus homo?” was the great question that challenged the Church for centuries. “Why did God become man?”
The Creed confessed: “For us men and our salvation.”
First, God became man to truly reveal himself to us.
In Jesus He has unveiled His very heart to us. Anyone who has seen Jesus with the eye of faith has seen God (John 14:9-11).
Looking wistfully at the picture of her father away in war, a small child said to her mother, “I wish Daddy would step out of the picture and speak to me!”
That is the precise meaning of Christmas – God has stepped out of the frame of the cosmos and in His Son spoken to us His revealing and saving Word (Hebrews 1:1-3).
What God is in His infinite being may forever beyond us. But what He is in His true nature we know: He is the Christlike God. In Christ, we see the humanity in God.
Furthermore, God became man in order to enter sympathetically into our human condition.
The Epistle to the Hebrews assures us that because of the Incarnation we now have One within the Godhead who is one of us! One who, sin alone excepted, has in every respect become as we are in our weaknesses and temptations (2:14; 4:14-16).
Reverently we conclude that the Incarnation in some wondrous but real way opened a new and deepened dimension of divine sympathy and succor for us tempted and struggling mortals. From within our humanity, the Son of God now intercedes on our behalf, while the Spirit He has sent to dwell within us pleads “with groanings which cannot be uttered!” With St. Paul we triumphantly say, “If God be for us, who can be against us?”
Supremely, God became man to redeem us from our fallen state.
Created in the image of God, we have by the Fall become the pawns of Satan, sin, and death. But the incarnate Son of God, by His death and resurrection, has bound Satan and destroyed sin and death, and by His ascension and gift of the Holy Spirit is spoiling the strong man’s house in the glorious manifestation of His saving might! To quote Hebrews again,
“But now we do not yet see all things put under Him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are not all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (2:8-11, NKJV).
Why did God become man? That we might be one with Him, forever!
William M. Greathouse
Exerpt from Herald of Holiness, December 1983